LETTER: Ending White Rock question period would be mistake

The Editor,

An open letter to White Rock mayor and council: I see you are planning to delete the public’s legislated right to ask questions of you in a very specific and limited way following the conclusion of a "regular" council meeting.

The public is already excluded from so much that already goes on at city hall through its regular "closed" council meetings. In my view, putting an end to question period by amending Bylaw No.1960 is yet another sad step away from democracy.

Those same reasons why question period was brought into place in 2009 exist just as equally today as they did then, perhaps moreso given the extended terms of office that local elected officials now enjoy.

Why not ask tax-paying citizens whether or not the question period should be scrapped? Are White Rock elected officials really so afraid of maybe being held accountable to the public for their actions that they need to do everything that they can to try to avoid public scrutiny?

One need only review the topics on any regular city council agenda to see that there are many more matters of significantly less value than the public’s question period at each and every council meeting.

Mr. Baldwin’s suggestions that question period is a "non-event" and that in his time, "there are three people, no more than that, who have ever made use of it" seems to me pretty clearly to be merely a self-serving quote looking to justify another predetermined outcome or desire. If it is such a "non-event" and nobody uses it as Mr. Baldwin claims, why then not simply leave question period in place? What harm does it do to anyone and as a value, it certainly does provide the Public an irrevocable right. What can be wrong with that?

Coun. Lynne Sinclair was quoted as saying there are better ways to get answers than a formal question period "at the end of a long council meeting."

I see the last council meeting for which there are minutes available was Jan. 12, 2015 and it lasted a whopping 25 minutes, from 7 p.m. to 7:25 p.m. Do not disentitle and disfranchise the public. It could just as easily be you or your interests at the other end of the microphone.

Dennis Lypka

White Rock