Public engagement with Council
April 13, 2015
Last week, Council had two high profile and contentious public hearings regarding a daycare in a residential neighborhood, and potential rezoning of some homes from parks to multi-family. We spent over 3 hours on the public hearings, and then began our record-breaking marathon meeting ending after midnight.
We try to lay some ground rules at public hearings, some suggestions to keep the flow going: don't re-read what you emailed council, try to focus on new information instead of repeating verbatim of what the speaker before stated, and keep to 3 minutes. But we had a myriad of presentations. It is tough as everyone is to be given an opportunity to speak. We do also allow a speaker to return to the mic after all other presenters have spoken for the first time in case there was more information to share.
Apart from one presentation getting a little personalized instead of focusing on the topic, I thought the comments were very respectful and atmosphere was light.
It is not easy for many people to come up and speak in front of City Council. While some have props, power points, or theatrics, the most genuine, straight from the heart and to the point always seem to resonate the most effectively. We don't endorse cheering or jeering, and that's so everyone can feel their opinion was not only heard, but respected.
We recognize that not everyone will agree on initiatives, ideas or actions the City takes. I am happy we have a community that is willing to engage in dialogue for the future of the City. I am also proud of our Council, as we continue to have good debate on the issues of the day, and seldom on controversial issues do we get unanimous voting. I make a point to ensure each councillor vocalizes their position, concern and possible solutions so the public knows where we stand or our rationalization for support or non-support.
Council enters into public meetings with an open mind; typically during a public hearing or council debate, a different perspective or new information will come into play forcing you to question your initial thoughts on what direction to consider. It is hard at times to separate emotion from the discussion and focus on the greater community good, but that is council's mandate when considering resolutions.
As council works towards moving Penticton forward, we will encounter accolades, tribulation, and opportunities that as a community we will need to celebrate, work through and capitalize on. Public engagement is crucial so we all feel we had a hand in what direction the City is taking and our community pride can be ignited.
City Council is very accessible in person, via phone or email (email is preferred so there is less of a chance of misinterpretation in our response or search for information). I encourage you if you have a question, or idea to let us know so you can be heard and get informed.Go to Top