Council talks about talking
As its five-item workshop this week stretched past the three-hour mark, with half the agenda still to go, Kamloops council got introspective.
“The problem is not the policy,” declared Coun. Ken Christian.
“The problem is us.”
In theory, councillors were discussing whether to end meetings at 10 p.m. rather than 11 p.m. to combat some days of talks and public hearings that have stretched from 9 a.m. to midnight.
In either case, meetings could still be extended past that time by a majority vote.
But, most council members said they didn’t want to end up cutting contentious public hearings short because of the smaller time allotment and offered each other some advice instead — talk less.
“We won’t be there until 12 a.m. if we watch how many questions we ask and how many times we say the same thing,” said Coun. Pat Wallace.
“How many times do you have to burden your colleagues with the same comment?”
Since Kamloops’ current council was elected in November, Mayor Peter Milobar said meetings are getting longer — and not because more policies are coming to council.
“I haven’t seen thicker agendas and I haven’t seen more meetings scheduled,” he said.
“What I have seen are much longer conversations and much more going around the table.
“We’re our own worst enemies.”
Coun. Nelly Dever suggested council place limits on how many times each person at the table speaks, or enact a requirement that prioritizes councillors with differing view points.
“I’ve often sat here and listened to seven people say the same thing, just with a different choice of words,” she said.
Coun. Marg Spina suggested councillors “not think out loud” and instead speak only when they know what point they want to make.
However, Coun. Tina Lange said longer meetings may be helping council’s image.
Lange said when she sat on past councils where there was less debate “the citizens had the feeling we’d had all our discussions somewhere else.”
She said she has also changed her mind on how to vote several times during the third round of a debate.
“What’s this going to gain us, maybe a half hour here and there?” Lange asked.
“Not worth it because what I hear from the public is they like this a lot better.”