City of Powell River councillors had extensive discussion about correspondence relating to a possible name change for the city, and what is done with the letters after they have been received.
At the February 1 committee of the whole meeting, councillor Jim Palm said it had been brought to his attention that someone had sent a letter, but it somehow did not appear at the last update on correspondence that councillors received. He said the letter was in the correspondence councillors were reviewing that night.
“I’m just hoping in the future, going forward, that all of these letters will be presented to someone, so the public gets to see all of them, not just a few of them,” said Palm.
He also wondered if confirmation was being sent out to all the writers that the correspondence had been seen at the council table.
Corporate officer Chris Jackson said responses are sent. He added that it’s important that if a councillor receives correspondence, that staff also receives it, because sometimes people reach out to a limited number of councillors, and not necessarily staff.
“Make sure you send it to us,” said Jackson. “It’s better that we receive multiple copies rather than none. Anything on this topic, we’re batching it, and we’re making sure you get it, so it’s on the public record every month.”
Councillor George Doubt said all councillors receive emails. Some are copied to everybody on council and some go to one or two councillors, he added, and there is also an official city address for people to send communications to the city.
“I think the intention is, if people send a piece of correspondence they want on the agenda of city council, that they send it to the city,” said Doubt. “I know many councillors will send requests to make sure things get on the agenda and get recorded so people can have their say.”
The city email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doubt said councillors read all of the correspondence on the agenda.
“I don’t necessarily agree with them all, but I do read them and take into account what they say in decisions I make,” he added.
Elliott asks for patience
Councillor Cindy Elliott said she wanted to thank people for participating by sending their worries.
“I see there are a lot of worries about the process for how we are moving forward; I think it’s because our process is fairly slow in comparison to some other processes that have taken place,” said Elliott. “We haven’t done a community engagement yet and we haven’t come out to talk to you about it yet. We’re still figuring out the best way to do that with some of the sensitive material. We want to make comprehensive information available for people to digest through our community engagement.
“We are wanting to work with Tla’amin Nation to make sure information that is exchanged is appropriate. I have no intentions of moving forward with changing names or figuring out what our next step is without lots of community engagement. I want to get out there and talk.”
Elliott said she is sorry the process is taking time and the reason people feel like they are not being heard is because the committee looking into a possible name change is not responding to the input just yet.
“I ask for patience,” added Elliott.
Mayor Dave Formosa said he is hearing from a lot of people that the name change is a done deal. He said Elliott had given a good reason why people haven’t heard a rollout for public engagement, which will be extensive.
Formosa said when making reference to the process, it should say “possible name change.”
“Folks are saying collectively, it’s a done deal, what’s the point?” added Formosa. “There will be extensive communications and education.”
Councillor Maggie Hathaway asked if the incoming correspondence is being shared with the committee struck to look into the possible renaming.
Chief administrative officer Russell Brewer said he has been forwarding correspondence, once it’s on a public agenda, to the consultants who have been recently hired to work on the engagement.
The committee of the whole voted to receive the correspondence.