Port Moody councillors must be brief – and show up

Port Moody councillors will still have to be succinct when introducing their motions and, for now, they’ll still have to do so in person.

Tuesday, city council moved forward on some of its previous resolutions it passed last year for amendments to procedures for conducting its meetings but rejected others, such as allowing councillors to speak for up to 10 minutes when introducing motions. Instead, they’ll have to stick to the current five-minute limit to make their case.

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Coun. Zoe Royer said extending councillors’ speaking time would make meetings “unmanageable,” then later pointed out the irony of the 45-minute debate on whether they should be allowed an extra five minutes.

Coun. Steve Milani said keeping the reins on councillors’ speaking time ensures they come to meetings prepared. Coun. Meghan Lahti agreed, stating, “We spend way too much time at this table talking about stuff that’s not important.”

Council also endorsed an amendment to allow councillors to participate once a year in meetings electronically if they can’t be there in person but then deferred implementation of a new corporate policy that would allow that to happen until it could discuss the idea further in committee of the whole.

Milani said electronic participation in meetings has become “pretty standard” elsewhere but he wanted more information on how it should be done.

Mayor Rob Vagramov said while the city’s new $35,000 electronic meeting management system that was introduced last year would allow councillors to cast votes remotely, following a staff recommendation to let them participate in meetings by phone “introduces a whole host of problems,” including poor connections and dropped signals.

“A reasonable solution requires a human being minding the connection, and if it doesn’t work, we move on with the physical quorum,” he said, adding a previous experiment with electronic participation had mixed results.

Council also rejected a resolution to allow late items to be added to the agenda after it’s been published with the assent of two-thirds of councillors instead of the current practice that requires unanimous approval.

It did, however, approve several other procedural amendments, including a provision to review council procedures after each general election and an increase to the time allotted for public input to 30 minutes before council must vote to extend that time.

The new procedures could be adopted as soon as Jan. 28.

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