Pending final approval, Sidney regular council meeting will start at 6 p.m. (Black Press Media File)

Sidney councillor ponders providing daycare to help public at council meetings

Pending approval, Sidney council meetings to start an hour earlier at 6 p.m.

A Sidney councillor wonders whether the town should start providing care for children whose parents want to attend council and committee-of-the-whole meetings.

“So if we are concerned about limiting peoples’ participation, we might need to do what other councils have done, and start looking at child care provision,” said Coun. Sara Duncan. “I don’t know how many people in Sidney would take us up on that. We are such a small municipality, but I think that would be the main one.”

Duncan made these comments as council gave three readings to a bylaw amending the starting time for regular council meetings. They will now start at 6 p.m., the same time as committee-of-the-whole meetings. Pending final approval, the revisions also include a small number of changes to other procedural aspects, with none drawing more debate than starting regular council meetings one hour earlier from previous practice.

Couns. Scott Garnett and Terri O’Keeffe opposed the change during third reading. Duncan joined Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith as well as Couns. Barbara Fallot, Chad Rintoul and Peter Wainwright in support of the changes.

RELATED: Sidney looks at earlier council meetings

Garnett said he opposed the change because it threatens to undermine public participation. The earlier starting time could make it more difficult for Sidney residents working outside the community to make it back in time to attend regular council meetings.

Duncan disagreed. The number of people who can make a 7 p.m. starting time, but not a 6 p.m. starting time due to conflicts with work or family is “vanishingly small,” she said.

“The reasons those people can’t make it because of work or family commitments is not because of the time, but the fact that it is in the evening, or they can’t afford or don’t want afford the child care,” she said, before making her appeal.

She also made the argument that white-collar workers impacted by the change can always ask their employers to leave early to attend council at the new starting time, then make up the work later. This argument drew a rebuke from O’Keefee.

“Talking about people with white-collar jobs, we are making some broad presumptions about what peoples’ experiences are,” she said.

O’Keeffe also wondered why council would erect a potential barrier to political participation. “We didn’t hear anything from the community to bring this forward,” she said. “This came forward on your own initiative.” While staff and council would benefit from the new starting time, O’Keeffe said she supports 7 p.m. meetings if it potentially allows more people to attend.

McNeil-Smith said it is not a given that fewer people will attend.

While six or fewer people regularly attend both council and committee meetings, people have demonstrated that they will make arrangements to attend committee of the whole meetings at 6 p.m. if items on the agenda are important to them. “We have had some full houses for some [committee of the whole] meetings.”


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

Full buses leave Colwood woman fuming over commute from West Shore

BC Transit plans to add eight double-deckers in 2020, will rotate on 50 and 61 routes

MISSING: 64-year-old Victoria man David Atkins

Atkins was last seen downtown on Dec. 2 and now could be in Sooke

Our Place Society asks for men’s clothing donations

Victoria non-profit short on men’s clothes, has 80 per cent male clientele

Saanich councillor tries his hand at design with cycling T-shirt

Positive response has avid cyclist considering making more to share

PHOTOS: City of Colwood hosts a ‘heartwarming start’ to the holidays

Colwood Christmas Light Up Celebration sees surge in attendance

VIDEO: MPs reflect on anti-feminist violence on 30th anniversary of Montreal massacre

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at Ecole polytechnique on the evening of Dec. 6, 1989

POLL: Will you be donating to charities over the holiday season?

Many here in Victoria joined others around the world to take part… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 3

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

Most Read