Revelstoke city council this week started posting their regular meeting agendas on their website, allowing members of the public and interest groups to actually know what council will be discussing at their meetings.
The agenda and supporting documents will be posted here on the City of Revelstoke website on the Friday before the biweekly Tuesday meetings. City Committee of the Whole meeting minutes will also be posted when they resume from a summer hiatus.
The old system was democratically deficient. City staff would prepare paper copies of the agenda packages for council, staff and some media members, and would have a copy available to the public at city hall. The agenda was often not available until last thing on Friday afternoon, meaning individuals and organizations had little warning if their item was up for discussion. The Times Review published a column in July of 2010 urging city hall to digitally publish their agendas in order to rectify this problem.
The old system also meant the public was less informed, leading to negative consequences. For example, at a regular meeting in late July, baseball, skatepark and bike park advocates had a somewhat confrontational and acrimonious experience at a council meeting. Many in attendance had heard about the meeting through word of mouth; virtually none of them had read the staff report because it was not available to them. Some of them borrowed copies of the report and attempted to speed-read through it as the meeting was ongoing. If they had the report ahead of time, they would have seen the report recommended the start of a site planning process for Centennial Park — instead of a final vote on a final location, as some assumed. The results of the site planning process will be discussed at the Aug. 23 meeting. Now all parties have an opportunity to read the report before the meeting.
The changes to the agenda format will also allow potential candidates in the November 19, 2011 municipal election a better window into council business.
If you are interested in attending the Tuesday, August 23, 3:30 p.m. meeting, here are some other items that will be discussed:
– A BC Hydro expert on Smart Meters will present on the utility’s Smart Meter program.
– There’s a letter of concern about street vendors operating during the evening concert series in Grizzly Plaza.
– Council will debate a new policy on smoking in public places. It’s likely to go too far for some, and not far enough for others.
– Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services Chief Rob Girard will present a business case for an almost-new aerial apparatus truck.
– Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services will also present a report on their operating model.
– Find out where your tax dollars go. Although it’s a routine item that’s almost never discussed at council meetings, the agenda package contains a list of cheques the city has cut over the previous weeks. This week, the list is six pages long, totalling $4,443,020. Now you can thumb through the list to find out who is getting how much.
– And there’s much more — have a look at the agenda by following this link.
Revelstoke city hall’s Facebook page has been up since late June. Currently, they have 7 likes. The planning department has had a separate page for some time. The Times Review scored the very first comment on the city’s Facebook page, asking why they were cutting down trees downtown. A city notice said the removal was “scheduled” but didn’t explain why, so we thought we’d ask. So far, we haven’t got a public reply.