Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a roundtable discussion in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. The City of Whitehorse’s procedures bylaw was the focus of a roundtable discussion Oct. 15 where Constable highlighted the driving force for the changes being in how emergencies may be dealt with. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a roundtable discussion in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. The City of Whitehorse’s procedures bylaw was the focus of a roundtable discussion Oct. 15 where Constable highlighted the driving force for the changes being in how emergencies may be dealt with. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Bylaw changes needed for council to deal with urgent emergencies

Procedures bylaw discussed

Changes are being contemplated for the City of Whitehorse’s procedures bylaw.

The bylaw was the focus of a council and management roundtable discussion Oct. 15 where Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, highlighted the driving force for the changes being in how emergencies may be dealt with.

As she told council during the discussion, it was in 2019 that council identified emergency preparedness as a strategic priority. That was followed by the Operation NANOOK-TATIGIIT emergency exercise involving the Canadian military and numerous levels of government in July 2019.

Then in March, COVID-19 hit, further emphasizing the importance of emergency responses.

As part of its work to look at emergency preparedness, Constable explained, it was identified the timelines for council meetings to be held may not be sufficient in cases where there is an immediate emergency where decisions by council are required.

Currently, the bylaw provides for a minimum of 48 hours notice to be given for a regular meeting of council and 24 hours in cases of special meetings of council.

While the city is required to inform local media of the regular meetings, there is no such requirement for special meetings, something Coun. Steve Roddick suggested should change, with a number of council members noting their agreement.

With no means of having a meeting of council in the case of an urgent emergency — to deal with impacts of a forest fire for example — Constable noted a number of changes are being considered to address that.

Under the changes in the case where there’s a civil emergency that poses immediate danger to the public and/or property requiring timely action by city council, the available members of council would meet (this could be done by phone) to vote on the matter even if quorum (at least four members of council) isn’t met.

Any decision made in that process would later be confirmed with the rest of council, though a number of council members pointed out that it would be more of an acknowledgement of a decision that was already made.

Coun. Laura Cabott was the first to make note of it, wondering why confirmation would be needed, given that the council members responsible for the decision had been given the authority in the case of an emergency.

“I can see why it’s a bit tricky,” Cabott said of the clause.

Constable explained she had referred to Robert’s Rules of Order, a widely-used guide to parliamentary order, in drafting the proposed new bylaw provisions that any such decisions be confirmed at a later date when quorum can be met, but also noted the wording could be altered.

Coun. Samson Hartland, meanwhile, said that while he sees the importance of having the provision in place for council to deal with immediate emergencies, he wants to ensure there’s no “unintended consequences” or misinterpretation of when the provision can be used.

While the main focus for changing the bylaw is on allowing council to deal with urgent emergencies, Constable also noted there are a number of other changes proposed to streamline the bylaw and provide clarity, including looking at how public delegations happen.

Currently, delegates must submit their comments in writing due to COVID-19 restrictions, but prior to COVID-19 delegates could register to speak directly to council.

Constable questioned council on preferences for registering and information delegates provide such as addresses in exploring potential changes to the bylaw.

A number of other changes would also be considered and are expected to be discussed among council and management at a later date.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Whitehorse city council

Just Posted

The Fireweed Market in Shipyards Park will open on May 13. Joel Krahn/Yukon News
Whitehorse’s Fireweed Market opens May 13

The Fireweed Market will return with ‘exciting’ new and returning vendors

Ron Rousseau holds a sign saying ‘It’s time for a cultural shift’ during the Yukoners: Raise Your Voice Against Misogyny rally on May 11. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Protest held to condemn Yukon Party MLAs’ texts

A rally was held outside of legislature to condemn the inappropriate texts messages of Yukon Party MLAs Stacey Hassard and Wade Istchenko.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 12, 2021.… Continue reading

Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley announced youth vaccination clinics planned for this summer. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon government file)
Vaccination campaign planned for Yukon youth age 12 and up

The Pfizer vaccine was approved for younger people on May 5.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced two new cases of COVID-19 on May 11. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Two new cases of COVID-19 reported, one in the Yukon and one Outside

One person is self-isolating, the other will remain Outside until non-infectious

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

A lawsuit has been filed detailing the resignation of a former Yukon government mine engineer. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A year after resigning, former chief mine engineer sues Yukon government

Paul Christman alleges a hostile work environment and circumvention of his authority led him to quit

Former Liberal MLA Pauline Frost speaks to reporters outside the courthouse on April 19. One of the voters accused of casting an invalid vote has been granted intervenor status in the lawsuit Frost filed last month. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Voters named in Pauline Frost election lawsuit ask to join court proceedings

The judge granted Christopher Schafer intervenor status

Haley Ritchie/Yukon News file
File photo of the legislative assembly. The previous spring sitting began on March 4 but was interrupted due to the election.
Throne speech kicks off short spring legislature sitting

The government will now need to pass the budget.

The deceased man, found in Lake LaBerge in 2016, had on three layers of clothing, Dakato work boots, and had a sheathed knife on his belt. Photo courtesy Yukon RCMP
RCMP, Coroner’s Office seek public assistance in identifying a deceased man

The Yukon RCMP Historical Case Unit and the Yukon Coroner’s Office are looking for public help to identify a man who was found dead in Lake LaBerge in May 2016.

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Most Read