Langley City and Township are both taking their summer break at the moment.
But unlike schools, they don’t begin their break at the end of June. July usually has a full complement of meetings. And sometimes, those meetings can be packed with major decisions, as they try to clear the decks before the August doldrums set in.
This is often contentious.
Attend a July public hearing, and you are guaranteed to hear a resident or two complain that their neighbours wanted to be there, to speak on this important topic… but they’re on vacation. They’re at the cabin, or at Disneyland with the kids, or visiting relatives back east.
Every year, there are arguments back and forth about whether or not to delay some of these hearings until the fall.
The argument for delay is obvious. For rezonings and major policy changes, getting the input of as many people as possible is the ideal.
There are also arguments against delay. A council that ran just 10 months a year would be hard pressed to deal with all its business in a timely manner.
Furthermore, there are always some people away on vacation, or a business trip, or in midst of a family crisis. There is simply no way to accommodate every single resident’s schedule.
Rather than choose to delay hearings, our councils could try to cast their nets wider for opinions.
Email and online surveys could help reach people who plan to be out of town. Mailed notices could be sent out earlier – especially during June and July.
Technology and a few policy changes could allow more people to have their say. A balance can be struck that will allow for vital public input without closing council all summer.