Issues of free speech, the law, and costs to taxpayers were thrown about as Langley Township councillors debated limits to motions at Monday night's meeting.
Coun. Grant Ward made a motion of his own that would limit the councillors to one motion per month, or 10 per year.
He immediately suggested referring his plan to a council priorities committee meeting, rather than hashing it out during a regular session.
"This is going to be a contentious item," Ward said.
He was not wrong, as several councillors immediately raised concerns.
Coun. Kim Richter called it an attempt to muzzle her and other councillors.
Richter generally puts forward an average of one or two notices of motion per evening meeting, and is by far the most prolific in terms of using motions around the council table.
"The referral motion is out of order, this notice of motion is out of order," Richter said.
The councillor said she had shown Ward's motion to a Township lawyer on Monday. She went on to say that he had reviewed it and said it was contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights.
There was a fair amount of crosstalk as Richter spoke, as Ward called "point of order" several times, and Froese tried to turn the right to speak over to Ward, as Richter was talking about the motion rather than its referral, while Richter said the mayor was showing bias.
Other councillors also had concerns.
Coun. David Davis also framed the matter as a free speech issue.
"We can't, we just can't go around muzzling councillors," Davis said.
"I have some concerns about the process, I have some concerns about going in this direction," said Coun. Steve Ferguson.
He tried to pour oil on the waters, saying he believes it isn't always best to run a community by motions, but there were ways to discus it.
On the issue of legality, Coun. Charlie Fox asked for a legal opinion before Ward's plan is sent forward to any further discussion. If lawyers for the Township say it's illegal, it shouldn't go forward, Fox said.
The cost of motions being put forward was brought up by Coun. Bev Dornan, who said that developing motions on the fly can be a way to deal with concerns of the public, but it can also download more work onto Township staff members.
The council ultimately voted to refer the motion to its planning committee, but it will have to wait until at least May for further debate, after budget discussions. Froese asked for the delay to avoid slowing down talks about Township financial matters, which will be taking place over the next few months.
Ferguson, Richter, and Davis were opposed to the referral.
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