EDITORIAL: City flip-flop raises pointed questions

Should we have reached a place where residents are feeling that they must resort to legal action to get answers to their questions?

To hear the official response, the City of White Rock’s decision to reopen its 2015 annual report for public discussion is nothing more than civic leaders listening to the residents.

No matter that this decision came a month after residents were told at the earlier annual-report meeting that it was “not a time for the speakers to be asking questions of the administration regarding the annual report.”

Of course, since that time city staff and elected officials must have been perusing the Community Charter, which states:

“The council must annually consider, at a council meeting or other public meeting (a) the annual report prepared under section 98, and (b) submissions and questions from the public.”

It now appears that the amendments to the annual report will also include a statement of objectives for the city, and measures taken to determine progress on the objectives, as well as a progress report – all of which, as council critics have pointed out, are mandatory under the charter.

That the current gatekeepers at White Rock city hall are open to suggestions might surprise some. That they are expressing a willingness to listen to their fiercest critics appears most disingenuous.

In spite of a pronounced flip-flop on this issue, nowhere in city statements can there be found any suggestion that the city may have been in error, or acted improperly, or that apparent threats by some residents to pursue lawsuits against the city on the basis of breaching the charter entered into the decision to amend the report.

Perhaps such considerations never coloured the decision, and perhaps there is truly nothing to be seen here.

But should we have reached a place where residents are feeling that they must resort to legal action to get answers to their questions?

Doesn’t this – and the unprecedented barrage of freedom-of-information requests now inundating city hall – indicate that there is a grave communications disconnect between city residents, the public servants employed to act for them and the politicians elected to represent them?

There are so many questions yet to be asked, some more pointed than others.

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