It appears that Sooke’s current CEO (in this case, acting Mayor Kerrie Reay) and CAO (Teresa Sullivan) are vetting questions before a presentation is permitted at Council Meetings.
Diane Bernard, who is a long-time Sooke resident, local business owner and employer at Sea Flora, and former regional director of the Sooke Electoral Area, submitted an application on Friday, February 12. She wished to present at the February 22 council meeting.
To present at a council meeting, residents must complete the Request to Appear as a Delegation form, providing sufficient detail to describe the topic, the presenters and meeting date they wish to appear. This application must be submitted to the Clerk by 4:30 p.m. on the Tuesday prior to the meeting.
Her request was denied this morning (Wednesday February 17), with the following email from CAO Teresa Sullivan.
Section 23.4 of Bylaw No. 422, which Sullivan is invoking (“leaving us with no choice but to invoke…”) reads, “Council or the Corporate Officer may refuse to place a delegation on the agenda if the issue is not considered to fall within the jurisdiction of Council. If the delegation wishes to appeal the Council or Corporate Officer’s decision, the information must be distributed under separate cover to Council for their consideration.”
“This has never happened,” Bernard told SPN. “I’ve made presentations before. I’ve never been demanded to provide questions before hand.”
Bernard is frustrated. “I met the deadlines to submit the application. I also answered her questions by telephone and expanded on their request for more details. In spite of all that, it was still demanded I submit my questions and concerns in writing so she could determine the jurisdiction.”
Diane responded to the CAO with this email.
To no avail. Here is the CAO’s reply.
Bernard is free to appeal the decision, but there is no way that she can now meet any timeline to appear as a delegation at the February 22 council meeting. In all her time in Sooke, Bernard has never been denied a presentation at council, nor has she ever heard of this happening in Sooke. She sees this as a giant step back in professionalism, openness, and any intent in moving things forward economically in Sooke.
According to the District’s website, “As a citizen of the District of Sooke, you may at any time make your views known. It is usually best to begin with the contacting the appropriate municipal department or staff person, but citizens may also present their views to Council in writing or in person at a Council meeting.”
The next Council Meeting is scheduled to happen on MONDAY February 22 starting at 7pm at the Council Chambers. All members of the public are allowed to attend.
For January and February, the acting mayor is councilor Kerrie Reay; for March and April, it will be councilor Rick Kaspar. The elected mayor is Maja Tait, and she is currently on mat leave.
SPN encourages all members from the public, from the council, and from the Sooke executive to add their thoughts and concern in the comments below.
- Council procedure bylaw 422 (Sooke)
- How to present an issue to Sooke Council (SPN)
- Regular Council Meeting schedule (Sooke)
- Community Charter (BC)
- Who’s the mayor this month? (SPN)
- Sea Flora
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