Whitehorse city council meetings could be starting an hour earlier. On May 6, council will be discussing changes to the procedures bylaw. Proposed changes include moving the meeting time to 6:30 p.m from 7:30 p.m. A notice to discuss changes was brought forward Monday night.
A new time concerns Coun. Dave Stockdale. “I don’t think it’s convenient,” he said after the meeting. One of the reasons for the change is to make it easier for the public to attend. But most people are eating at 6:30 p.m., he said. The public needs to be asked its opinion, he said.
“I just don’t want to change it,” he told reporters.
Meetings have started at 7:30 p.m. for years. “It’s comfortable for me,” he said. Councillors arrive 30 minutes before meetings start, so the proposed change would mean they’d have to be at city hall at 6 p.m. Some meetings since October’s election have stretched close to midnight, but adjournments have been much earlier lately.
Changing meeting times is a “major” decision, Stockdale told council. He suggested possibly ensuring this can only happen if more than two-thirds of councillors agree to it.
“If it is kind of contentious, and we’ve got three people that are dissatisfied with the change, why would four push it ahead, when it’s something that we’ve been doing for years and years?” he told reporters after the meeting.
But changing the thresholds for voting on different matters could cause too many complications, Coun. Betty Irwin told council. “Who determines which issues are more important than others?” she asked.
The proposed changes could also provide more clarity about who has final authority during debate, the mayor or committee chairs. These procedures have frustrated him, Stockdale told reporters. Last month, he and Mayor Dan Curtis disagreed about who could call a point of order during debate. Later in the meeting, Stockdale called the mayor a “Sourdough Sam” and refused to apologize.
“I’ve operated in a certain way, and if I get controlled by a procedures bylaw, then I get a little annoyed,” Stockdale told reporters, laughing.