Council to limit presentations

City council has endorsed reducing the amount of time given to public presenters at its meetings in order to have more time to address its own priorities.

City Clerk Peter Wipper said at last week’s Tuesday council meeting that he will be bringing a bylaw back to council that will alter how council conducts its public meetings.

Among the changes, presentations from the community will be restricted to five minutes; delegations are currently allotted 10 minutes each.

If the bylaw is passed by council in the coming months, it will also restrict delegations to the first half an hour of a council meeting.

If the half hour mark is surpassed and there are still delegations waiting to present, they will be moved to the end of the council meeting.

“With a five minute maximum coming into place, we think we could get through quite a bit more in that half an hour,” Wipper said, “but what it does, is it recognizes the strategic priorities council has established and ensures that their business gets taken care of.

“The problem with allowing delegations to go on forever at the beginning of the meeting is you can spend two hours on their business and never get to your business,” he added.

Wipper said that restricting the length of delegations mitigates that problem.

“After reviewing past presentations, it was apparent that almost all delegations could present their information and make their requests in less than five minutes,” Wipper said in a report to council.

“Many cities, including Victoria, limit delegations to five minutes; in fact some cities, such as Hilo, Hawaii limit delegations to three minutes. Kelowna goes further by not allowing any delegations at their council meetings and only permitting them at COW (committee of the whole) meetings.”

Wipper’s findings and recommendations were debated by council for nearly one hour at a committee of the whole meeting in April.

The changes were then brought to last week’s council meeting, at which time council directed Wipper to prepare a bylaw addressing the changes.

That bylaw will have to go through three readings and adoption at future council meetings.

Mayor Andy Adams said the bylaw will also include changes that will help council better prepare for meetings.

“What this does mean for council – and I think it’s important for our time management – is that Mr. Wipper and his staff will now work to have the agendas out by the end of the day on Thursday (prior to Monday’s council meeting) which will be a great help to council,” Adams said.