White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker receiving a congratulatory hug after topping the polls last month. (File photo)

White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker receiving a congratulatory hug after topping the polls last month. (File photo)

EDITORIAL: Unseemly haste as new White Rock leaders offer short notice

For a new council that campaigned on including the public, first move was a major misstep

It would be understandable if members of the newly elected White Rock council are patting themselves on the back after demonstrating last week that they will stand by promises made to voters in the run-up to last month’s elections.

In Surrey, after all, the new council had barely been sworn in when Mayor Doug McCallum acted to deliver on his campaign platform to terminate the RCMP contract and scrap the LRT in favour of a SkyTrain expansion.

In White Rock, convincing wins by Mayor Darryl Walker and the rest of his Democracy Direct slate, along with incumbent independent councillors Helen Fathers and David Chesney, indicate a clear mandate to pause development and revisit both the OCP and past practice of approving highrise projects outside of the town centre core.

But a special public meeting called to address these issues on Nov. 7 was announced with distressingly short notice – two days after being sworn in and just over 24 hours before the meeting was to begin.

READ: Surrey’s top cop ‘disappointed’ after council votes to pull out of RCMP contract

READ: White Rock ‘hits pause button’ on highrises

Peace Arch News, for example, only received an emailed news release at 4:45 p.m. on Nov. 6, well after the next day’s paper had gone to press, that the meeting was to take place the following day at 5:30 p.m. And, unlike the practice of most meetings, there was no time for city staff to publish a full agenda or reports that inform council decisions, in advance.

We contend this was wrong. The city may have been technically within its policy calling for a minimum of 24 hours notification of such a meeting, but it was needlessly cutting things way too close for comfort – particularly for residents who might have wanted to be there but were not exactly hovering over their computers in anticipation of a city announcement.

Certainly, PAN published an online article about the meeting, and residents packed council chambers, but we can’t help wondering how many others would have been there if they’d had adequate notice.

The last council didn’t just come under fire for holding too many in-camera meetings, they also drew residents’ ire for allowing staff to schedule crucial meetings at times that were inconvenient for many. For a new council that has campaigned on improving transparency – and avowed a desire to include the public in the decision-making process – this was a major misstep.

 

EDITORIAL: Unseemly haste as new White Rock leaders offer short notice

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