There appears to be hope yet for a better working environment among the municipal councillors of the District of North Saanich.
Late last year, the council began mediation sessions between themselves and the district’s senior staff, after not being able to communicate well.
That’s putting it mildly.
The acrimony between councillors was very noticeable and contributed to meetings that were longer than necessary as the politicians engaged in circular arguments and sniped at each other and at staff. They finally opted to bring in a mediator to help them better communicate with each other and get on with the community’s business.
It was hoped that 2013 would bring better conditions around the council table and their recent committee of the whole meeting proved that there’s hope.
Committee meetings are generally seen as less formal sessions, so perhaps that helped, but the debate, overall, remained civil — even when the parties disagreed on specific issues.
A good sign.
It’s also a good sign that the council was willing to listen to their residents and voted to make public ongoing interview material from their consultant on the housing policy review. At this early stage, it shows council is willing to listen and, while not giving in to one side or the other, show the ability to be transparent.
This can only benefit their ongoing community consultation process. Certainly, no one side in that debate will entirely get their way.
The best outcome for this council is to continue lively, civil debate and ensure their residents — not council itself — get the attention they need.