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qRD committee recommends approval of meeting schedule

qathet Regional District board to consider its 2024 standing committee and board gatherings
REVIEWS PLANS: qathet Regional District board members will consider going to a schedule in 2024 that features splitting up the committee meetings to two days, and have a board meeting on each of those days.

qathet Regional District (qRD) board will consider a meeting schedule for 2024 board and standing committee sessions.

At the November 22 committee of the whole meeting, Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said for much of 2023, the regional district had its standing committee meetings on one day and that seemed to be not working out well, so now in the recommended schedule, the committee meetings have been split up on two days and there are two board meetings a month.

“I don’t like cramming in a bunch of meetings on the same day because it makes us feel like we are starting to get rushed,” said Gisborne. “This proposed meeting schedule has planning, finance and board on the same day. With the provincial government’s proposed bills 44, 45 and 46, our planning committee meetings are going to get very large and complicated.

“I don’t support the option for our board meeting schedule. I would prefer to have some of those meetings split up over more dates, so we can get into the details and focus on planning issues.”

Gisborne said he has also heard complaints from members of the public. He said an old meeting schedule had meetings in the evening.

“With our planning committee starting at 10:30 in the morning, I’ve had residents say they can’t make it because they have to work,” said Gisborne. “I don’t like this proposed meeting schedule but there are no other options before us.”

Electoral Area D director and committee chair Sandy McCormick said the regional district meetings are live-streamed and archived, so if people want to find out what is going on in the evening, they can do so.

City of Powell River director Cindy Elliott said the new schedule was better for her than what was in place previously. She said she likes the two monthly board meetings instead of the one.

“We have the ability to respond and make decisions in a more timely way,” said Elliott. “While I sympathize with the longer days, it’s not that much longer than a regular workday, and for those who have to work and sit on a board, to dedicate several days in the month to show up becomes costly.

“Evening meetings should be something we think about as far as a public involvement strategy to allow people to ask the board questions, but could be separate from us doing our business here. The proposed schedule strikes a good balance.”

Electoral Area E director Andrew Fall said having the regional district’s meeting schedule on a couple days a month makes sense to him and helps with his scheduling with other meetings he attends. He said in terms of public participation, it is impossible to guess when the public can attend.

“What’s more important is to provide maximum flexibility and communication on how we engage,” said Fall. “There’s lots of ways to be accommodating.”

Gisborne said in the past, there were evening meetings where people with employment could attend board meetings. He said the regional district has a lot of services and is facing a lot of issues.

“We need to be providing good leadership to our community and I don’t think two days a month does it,” said Gisborne.

McCormick said in Vancouver, all committee meetings take place at 9:30 am and the council meeting takes place at 2 pm.

“That was the case 20 years ago and I suspect it’s the same now,” said McCormick. “We are not going off somewhere where no one else has been.”

The committee recommended that the board approve the 2024 board and standing committee schedule as presented, with Gisborne opposed.

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