On January 28, 2015, Brampton residents discovered that the Public Question Period was removed from Council agendas. Council and city staff endured boos and cries of shame from disgruntled residents. Many residents became convinced that our government was moving toward an autocracy — removing public input, and making critical decisions behind closed doors. Quite the opposite.

What’s happened is a restructuring of the agenda order of business. “Accountable Council decision-making, enhanced public access and participation, and improved meeting efficiency”. To understand how this came about, we need to look back at the agenda for the Council Workshop from December 15 and 16, 2014. IT contains “A Proposed Committee Structure for City Council Decision-making” and other amendments for “Council Meeting Procedures – Facilitating Effective and Efficient Meetings”. A report from that workshop was carried by Council at a Special Meeting of December 17, 2014.

Council’s Procedure By-law was amended. But what was in the report that had people worried?

In the report, Item D 1-14 indicates “Public Question Period deleted since amended delegation rules permit delegations to be added on agenda business ‘as of right’ at start of meeting”. The process of giving delegations to council has changed. Public Question Period is now redundant. In both situations, the public had an opportunity to voice opinion on business listed on the agenda.

The success of this change was evident at the Special Meeting of January 29, 2015. Council considered Interim Auditor General Jim McCarter’s “Financial Review of the City of Brampton” report. Delegations were made before council spoke to items on the agenda. This gave council an opportunity to respond to the public before making any decisions. This was not possible during Public Question Period.

Council has streamlined the process of inviting and considering public input at meetings. Public Question Period is not dead, it’s been restructured. Let’s take advantage of this, and make the effort to take part in Council and Committee sessions as often as we are able.


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