Council should not have gone head-to-head with Election Night

JAMES MILLER

At the time of this writing the final result of the federal election was unknown, as was the end result of last night’s Penticton City Council meeting. (See coverage in Wednesday’s Herald or online later today.)

We were somewhat taken aback that three months ago, when the writ was dropped and Canada’s longest election campaign in recent history began, that someone at City Hall didn’t say, “Oct. 19 — hey, that’s the night of the election,” and reschedule the meeting.

Council drastically altered its September schedule for the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention (can’t miss that) but not for one of the closest elections in modern history.

A letter sent from The Herald’s newsroom suggesting the meeting be postponed 24 hours was unanswered.

While it may appear self-serving to try to influence a meeting date that’s incovenient for local media, it’s also contradictory for council to force the same citizens they’ve urged to get and out and vote to decide between local and federal politics.

Municipal politicians want citizens to be involved in the process, provided they agree with the mandate.

Most citizens who attend a Penticton City Council meeting are interested in the democratic process. These same people likely skipped last night’s meeting because they were home watching the election results on TV, or, more likely, helping with one of the local candidates.

While the City does a good job at posting meetings online, it’s not guaranteed. Video for a public hearing on a hotel at 325 Power Street was never properly recorded and now remains just a memory. Being there in person is the only guarantee. With cameras, you’re also at the mercy of the editing as to seeing everyone’s reaction.

It would seem OK if Monday was a quick, 45-minute meeting with nothing compelling on the agenda. That wasn’t the case. There were several contentious issues on the agenda.

How many people were affected by this?

Likely no more than 15 — but that’s not the point. One form of democratically elected government shouldn’t be going head-to-head with another.