City seeks new means of public engagement

Members of Prince Rupert city council would like to start looking at alternative ways to gather public input.

Members of Prince Rupert city council would like to start looking at alternative ways to gather public input.

The Committee of the Whole meeting for January was cancelled last week, with Mayor Lee Brain stating the cancellation was due to a lack of interest. The intention of Committee of the Whole meetings is to allow members of the public to comment on city business, however past councils have used it to engage the public during the second meeting of the month.

“A lot of the feedback I’m getting is that people don’t particularly feel comfortable coming to chamber, on camera, to discuss things that are of concern to them,” Brain said.

“We’ve been loosely chatting about re-engaging the town on a monthly basis outside of council chambers.”

Brain said he would like to see a monthly event initiated that has an informal and engaging environment. Through using different facilitation tools, the public could express concerns on an array of subjects.

While some of Brain’s comments early in the meeting caused some confusion among councillors, he later clarified the city isn’t planning to cancel all future Committee of the Whole meetings, but said the city should look at the effectiveness of the monthly meetings.

“I’d like to keep these council sessions to business, more concise and have another way that we can get more feedback in another way outside of meetings and have those two become a happy marriage,” Brain said.

Coun. Barry Cunningham liked the idea of the city using both options to gather input.

“From a transparency point of view, the more input we get from people and the more that they know we’re willing to listen to them, the better off we all are,” said Cunningham.

“I really want the public to come to us, the citizens of this town, and tell us what they want because that’s so important. We can’t make these decisions without their input.”

Brain said he hopes a “new, innovative” process is in place by the spring.

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