Local government needs to change. This is the platform I was elected on. And it is understandable and expected that two months into a new term, some are expressing discomfort with change.
I’ve learned from experience if you don’t make structural change at the start of a political term, things usually become too hectic to do it later. Before you know it, you’re cogs in a machine, with no time to rethink whether the same old procedures work best for the current council and community.
Expectations on local councils and boards have also become more complex and overwhelming, making it harder to make important decisions – our fundamental role. This is why our council has decided to focus one meeting a month on getting those decisions done. (And yes, I’ve certainly referred to the Ombudsperson’s Open Meetings: Best Practices for Local Governments, which does not recommend holding public inquiry sessions during council meetings.) Leading up to these decision-making meetings, we are launching regular public dialogues to get early and meaningful public input. The intent is to transform how we do things, and to get more public input, not less.
We will also hold more “open” committee meetings like the one regarding Glassford Road, where we opened the floor to anyone present to problem-solve with us. Our harshest critic in the Dec. 23 letters section was a keen participant at this meeting, and at the end expressed appreciation to us for this improved way of engaging the public.
Regarding letters and emails not getting answered, I’ve done my best to reply to those sent directly to me (a couple responses are still underway). I’ve also identified a correspondence grey area where it isn’t clear if anyone has been answering it for some time, perhaps because we haven’t had a Communications Coordinator for the past two months. We appreciate your readers confirming this problem and we’re going to try to fix it early this year. If people have any correspondence to the Town that has been unanswered for more than a month, email (email@example.com) or call my cell (604-741-7023). Similarly, if you have any questions, I assure you we can answer them most effectively and thoroughly if you simply call, email or request an appointment with me through the Town (604-886-2274).
Silas White, Mayor of Gibsons