Timing is everything in Council effort to streamline

July 14, 2015

Town Council

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In an effort to streamline time taken for questions and answers when it comes to those presenting delegations, a revision came before Council to amend the procedural By-law as it pertains to deputations.

In the review of draft procedural By-laws at Council on July 13th (2015), the suggestion was made that councilors should be limited to one question per delegation until each member has had an opportunity to speak.  The maximum time for each delegation has been set at 15 minutes.

Councilor Neil Menage said "... it would be tough and that council would have to be very disciplined if members were limited to only one question."

"It's not that you get to ask only one question," explained Mayor Mike Smith.  "The intent is to let every  member ask a question given the time constraint of 15 minutes.  If there are no questions from all members and time permitting, then you can ask another."

The Mayor said that one of the problems is 'codifying' and that the Chair should have some flexibility.  "I haven't cut anybody off yet and I don't want to," he said.  "We are just trying to set some guidelines and expectations so that everybody is treated fairly."

"As Mayor, I have not cut anyone off, and with a new council, I wanted to see how everybody fits in, but I do think that some of the deputations did not respect our procedural By-law," added the Mayor,  "and, in the future going forward, I will start to ask people to respect the procedural By-law, but there will be some flexibility.  The other thing is, if there is any member of Council that thinks that a deputation has gone on too long, you can raise a point of order and we will deal with it."

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He also stressed that he felt a number of deputations have taken advantage of the procedural By-law.  "I think we need to deal with that," he said.  "Ten minutes is lots ... they are here to ask a question and, they are not here, in my mind, to use it as a forum and I think it has been used in the past, way too much as a forum."

"Reciprocally," said Menage, "I would ask that if a subject is really interesting and we want more information, could a delegation could go on a little longer through a point of order?"

"This is not going to be strict," said the Mayor, "but I am going to start asking that obligations to the procedural By-law are followed as closely as they can be.  If, at any point, any Council member thinks that he/she would like more information, raise it as a point of order and we can deal with it." 

The recommendation was carried that: question period be a maximum of 15 minutes; each Council member is limited to one question until all have had an opportunity and time permits; questions shall be limited to one minute or less.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015