Council’s actions louder than words

Workshops can be crowded and the public can be crowded out

Sometimes a simple gesture can carry a more powerful message than words or pronouncements.

This principle is demonstrated by the District of Maple Ridge frequently during the year when it holds its Monday morning council workshops.

The workshops, which take place in a small meeting room, are full council meetings where motions and resolutions can be passed, but which council likes to use for frank discussion, followed by formal decisions at its evening meetings, within the proper council chambers.

It’s a laudable goal. Workshops allow staff to participate without incurring overtime. Allowing council and staff to huddle over the table allows both to get to the nitty-gritty of sound policy making, they say. Only Coun. Corisa Bell has questioned the arrangement.

The meetings are open, the district points out.

Anyone can attend.

Technically that’s true, but in practice, it’s not. If a crowd turns out, not all will be able fit in the small room. The public can’t attend online, because these meetings, which run at least three hours, are not livestreamed. (The regular and committee meetings, where little debate happens, will be livestreamed, after Maple Ridge recently provided such service.)

But back to the non-verbal gestures. Often during these workshops, many from the public attend because council is discussing a hot item.

That was the case Monday when people crowded in searching for chairs and breathing room. Council sitting around a table, oblivious to the discomfort of the electors behind them, continued on with discussion, literally with their backs to  voters. No gesture or discussion was made to ease the comfort of the taxpaying public, who were too shy to complain.

It’s a regular occurrence and it’s good example –  actions speak louder than words.

– The News