As the City of Whitehorse continues considering changes to its procedures bylaw, city staff will be looking at how other municipalities provide for public presentations to be made to council.
The bylaw setting out procedures for council was once again the focus of a council and management roundtable discussion Oct. 29.
Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, highlighted a number of potential changes to the bylaw, updated since the previous roundtable discussion based on the previous discussion.
As she noted though, there had been differing opinions expressed by council members on the topic of delegations before council.
Delegations from the public at council meetings are currently limited to written format that are then read into the record at the meetings due to COVID; however, normally the bylaw allows for members of the public to make delegation presentations that can be up to five minutes long.
Delegates are asked to register by the morning of a council meeting though council can vote in favour of allowing a delegate to speak if they show up just a few minutes ahead of the council meeting.
While some members of council have spoken in favour of the revised bylaw being written to continue to allow delegates to register just ahead of the meeting in the interest of there not being barriers for the public, other members have stated they would like to see a cut-off time — such as in the early afternoon on the day of a council meeting — for delegates to register by so that administration can be better prepared should questions about the matter the delegate is bringing forward come up.
As Constable noted, having to add a delegate just ahead of a meeting also means making last minute changes to the agenda.
“It’s a scramble,” she said.
Council members continued to highlight both sides of the argument during the roundtable discussion with Constable suggesting she could look at how other municipalities allow for members of the public to address council at meetings.
“Maybe it’s time to do some research,” Constable said, noting other jurisdictions may have practices in place the City of Whitehorse could consider.
Council members appeared agreeable to having staff research it more with Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu commenting, “That would be very helpful,” and Coun. Samson Hartland emphasizing his hope that any change would maintain structure while also providing for some flexibility for the public to speak directly to council.
Council also appeared to agree that delegates should no longer be required to provide their full address, though some members noted it is important to know if delegates are citizens of the city.
Mayor Dan Curtis emphasized his hope that a new bylaw would make it easier for council members to speak up ahead of an amendment coming forward on various issues.
He and others including councillors Steve Roddick and Samson Hartland recalled a number of times where they have been chairing meetings, thus allowing others to speak first only to have an amendment come forward before they have an opportunity to address the original issue.
Constable said she would look at incorporating clear answers on the matter within the bylaw as part of the ongoing work on it.
She also outlined a number of more minor housekeeping changes to the document that are expected to change.
It’s anticipated another roundtable discussion will happen ahead of the bylaw coming forward to a formal council meeting.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at