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OUR VIEW: No time for Surrey council to rethink meeting start times

Maybe daytime public hearings aren’t a good idea
Surrey council chambers at city hall. (File photo)

Nestled inside a corporate report to Surrey council on Monday is an item that ought to give anyone holding a day job, and who might want to appear before council virtually or otherwise, more than just a little cause for concern.

The main topic of the report was the resurrection of virtual council and council-in-committee meetings, at the politicians’ pleasure. It received third-reading approval from the Safe Surrey Coalition majority on council but has yet to achieve final adoption.

Woven into those recommendations was a “flexibility” ask by staff concerning start and stop times for council meetings and public hearings.

Currently the start time for these meetings is 7 p.m. By allowing start times between 1 and 7 p.m., the report says, “there will be flexibility to better schedule council meeting start and end times to better accommodate all participants.”

READ ALSO: Surrey council opts to hold virtual meetings at its discretion

Yes, it’s a drag to begin a work week by attending a Monday night meeting that has the potential to creep into the wee hours of Tuesday. Especially if you work an afternoon or late shift.

But for the most part, it will be difficult for those working a day shift to be able to address council at a daytime public hearing unless – the horror – they burn a vacation day to do so.

During this fall’s civic election campaign, voters will no doubt hear a lot of promises about accessibility to city council. We did last time out.

Before giving this recommendation final reading approval, Surrey council would do well to rethink the concept of staging public hearings during the day, in the spirit of public accessibility.


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