City of Powell River staff have been directed to come back to city council with recommendations on delegations regarding a possible name change for the city.
At the April 5 committee of the whole meeting, councillor Maggie Hathaway said by allowing delegations to appear on the topic of the possible name change for Powell River, it’s a contentious issue, so allowing one might open the floodgates to many wishing to speak.
She said she’d like to make a motion that all input on the substantive name change issue, as opposed to procedure, be received in writing only and be dealt with as per established protocol.
Corporate officer Chris Jackson recommended that staff bring back a motion that includes everything.
Hathaway said she would like to withdraw her motion and direct staff to bring back a report as suggested by the corporate officer.
Councillor Jim Palm said he was in agreement with deferring the matter.
“I have to say that I will never as a member of this council support this type of motion that stifles our citizens from coming to this chamber and expressing their opinions,” said Palm. “I will never support such a motion for any issue. We’re going down the rabbit hole here. This should not even be entertained.”
Mayor Dave Formosa said the motion is to bring something back to consider. He said he had some concerns and thoughts to offer.
He said he had restricted people expressing their opinion in the past as chair when the opinion was repetitive.
“You start to get the same thing happening,” said Formosa. “It does happen.”
The mayor said councillors could find themselves inundated with people coming to discuss the possible name change. He said he understands there will be public venues for people to get out and express themselves.
“At the end of that process, that is just starting now, findings of that public input will be presented to council to make a decision,” said Formosa. “I think this is a smart idea.”
Councillor Cindy Elliott said she is always in favour of listening to people. She said when something has as much community interest as the name change issue has raised, and a forum has been set up, that is where the listening has to happen. She said the committee had accepted correspondence at the meeting with more than 100 letters. She said if those people were to speak to the committee, it would hamstring the ability to be a government.
“As a government, we have decided this is a big community issue,” said Elliott. “We want to hear everybody and we’ve set up a process to do that. It’s perfectly reasonable to direct people to that process so we can hear them.”
Elliott said the community engagement process is attempting to create unity and build consensus, and the joint working group is open to ideas that would carry on the conversation in the way the community would like.
Elliott said people can invite her to their meetings and she will show up.
“I’m on that joint working committee and my intention is to hear everybody who wants to say something,” said Elliott.
Palm said committee of the whole was set up to discuss issues and for the public to have access to councillors and state their concerns and opinions.
“That’s what committee of the whole is for,” said Palm. “It’s not a council meeting. It’s for discussion so we can get a better grip of the issues. We want to stifle people? Give me a break.”
Councillors gave unanimous consent for staff to come back with a recommendation to a council meeting.