I have attended several of the recent public hearings convened by the City of Revelstoke and have been struck by an aspect that leaves me severely troubled. Some hearings have been about major issues affecting the whole city (Revelstoke Crossing and Mackenzie Village), and others about local issues (vacation rentals).
These events, chaired by city council, invite input, comments, questions and opinions from the citizens of Revelstoke. Then, immediately afterward, third reading of a zoning bylaw occurs, with a vote by council.
Is the public hearing merely window dressing or truly a forum to garner input from the people?
If the real purpose of the hearing is for council to solicit from the citizens their views on the proposal in front of council, how can council possibly review, consider, digest, assimilate and research the input from the people in the moments during the third reading to inform their vote immediately after?
If the true purpose is the latter, then I urge council to stop the sham and take the time and make the effort to accept and carefully consider all the input from the citizenry.
I recognize members of council must not accept more input – either verbal or written – before voting, but surely an adjournment of 12 to 24 hours would be possible before a momentous decision is made which will affect the city for decades to come.
The courts, when they undertake to deliver an opinion on a significant issue, take the time to consider, review, weigh and evaluate all the information in front of them before delivering a verdict. Council should do the same.
If the process is not revised, I fear the citizenry will despair of even trying to give input as the process does not seem to respect their efforts to express opinions.