White Rock rescinds 'unnecessary' policy

White Rock rescinds ‘unnecessary’ policy

White Rock council voted last month to rescind the city's two-year-old lobbyist registration policy.

Developers and private citizens wanting to lobby White Rock council members on land-use ideas no longer have to register their intent with city hall.

At the suggestion of Coun. Grant Meyer, council voted last month to rescind the two-year-old legislation, agreeing it was both unnecessary and impractical.

The policy was created in 2010. According to city documents, it was aimed at ensuring the citizens of White Rock know who may be trying to influence city decisions through the use of lobbyists, in particular with regard to land-use applications.

But Mayor Wayne Baldwin said he has no idea why it ever came to be in the seaside city.

“I’m not sure what the thinking on it was,” Baldwin told Peace Arch News, noting it was initially put forward by former councillor Doug McLean, who also worked for the province.

When introducing the resolution in 2009, McLean said that increased transparency around lobbying activities would increase public trust in council and staff.

Baldwin said professional lobbyists generally work at the provincial and federal level. White Rock’s policy – believed to be the only one at the municipal level in B.C. – was never used, he said.

“It was there, it wasn’t followed, nobody did it, so why have it?” he said.

Meyer, in discussing his recommendation April 16, noted that “only a handful” of Canadian municipalities still have a lobbyist policy.

“I think it’s just a lot of red tape, unneeded,” he said.

Baldwin said developers and private citizens “can come talk to council at any time.”

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