Making council accessible
By Jenn Watt
Published Nov. 13, 2018
Last week, Highlands East council started a new discussion about better engagement when Deputy Mayor Suzanne Partridge said she thought there should be a period of time at the beginning of each meeting set aside for members of the public to speak.
This is a good idea and one that could be implemented in other council meetings around the county.
As it currently stands, if a member of the public wishes to speak at council, that person needs to register ahead of time that they would like to make a delegation.
Depending on the head of council and the municipality itself, members of the public have variously been allowed or barred from speaking up in the midst of a council meeting.
If allowed, it is usually because that person has a stake in the issue. Sometimes, even when the person does have an important point to make, they are not permitted to speak.
Restricting audience members from piping up throughout a council meeting makes good sense. We want our council meetings to be action-oriented and efficient. Councillors cannot be side-tracked with frequent interruptions.
However, providing a 10-minute window at the beginning of each meeting to allow for public feedback would go a long way to making meetings more welcoming to the public and giving councillors an opportunity to hear what’s on people’s minds.
Highlands East should go forward with their new initiative and with any luck their idea will be picked up by other councils.
Ringing the Bells
Congratulations to all of the organizers of the Bells of Peace project on joining in the international movement to mark the 100 year anniversary of the end of the First World War.
On Sunday as the sun was setting, church bells rang out in Haliburton, Minden, Irondale, Cardiff, Highland Grove, West Guilford, Wilberforce and likely many other villages in the county. It was a moving ceremony that gave us all a chance to pause and remember.
Not every year is one marking a milestone, but that shouldn’t mean we can’t take on big, important projects more often.
What the 100th anniversary has spurred is a renewed interest in our collective history. Something as simple as ringing church bells captures our imagination and has the ability to transport us to a time before our own.
And then there are the efforts of the high school students who have done research into the lives of veterans from our community. With the assistance of uber-volunteer Linda Heeps and HHSS teacher Paul Longo, they’ve been doing work that will benefit all of us.
The question now is how do we move forward with the work that’s been done to better understand those who came before us?