North Saanich debates meeting costs

Neighbourhood meetings anticipated to cost $1,060 this year; council holds off on a final decision

North Saanich neighbourhood meetings may all be held at the municipal hall next year.

At their meeting on Monday night, North Saanich council discussed whether or not holding neighbourhood meetings in various locations around the municipality is beneficial and cost effective.

“I don’t mind having the meetings, but it seems to me that we have these meetings around the municipality and we get the same people coming (to all of them),” said Councillor Dunstan Browne on Monday.

“I’m not suggesting we have less of them, just that we change the format.”

A report from the municipality’s Director of Financial Services, Theresa Flynn, noted the cost of the meetings are $200 to $300 per meeting if held at a location outside of municipal hall.

Last year, the municipality spent a total of $840 hosting neighbourhood meetings (one was held at municipal hall) and this year the cost for the meetings is anticipated to be $1,060.

Coun. Celia Stock said she was in favour of hosting the meetings in neighborhoods around North Saanich because it gives people a chance to address issues with council in a less intimidating and formal environment than municipal hall.

“It makes people feel great to be able to come talk to us,” she said. “At a smaller meeting people are more apt to come up and talk to us.”

Coun. Elsie McMurphy agreed, saying she regularly connects with people during the neighbourhood meetings she might not otherwise see.

“I’ve met a lot of people I didn’t know before during these (neighborhood) meetings,” she said. “I think (having these meetings) is democracy in action and I think it’s really healthy.”

Mayor Alice Finall and Coun. Ted Daly were both absent from Monday night’s meeting, and council voted to postpone making any descions on the matter until a full council was present.

The next North Saanich council meeting is on Nov. 5 and will be held in the council chamber at municipal hall.