Participatory democracy being threatened

Potential changes to Nanaimo governance is perhaps the biggest and most concerning issue to hit the community in years.

To the Editor,

Re: Bylaw designed to improve behaviour, April 3.

Potential changes to Nanaimo governance is perhaps the biggest and most concerning issue to hit the community in years.

If passed, participatory democracy would be severely curtailed and the public’s right to challenge bad decisions squashed like the proverbial annoying bugs some on city staff and council see citizens as.

The recent release of the Habkik and Mina governance reports, if acted upon, would severely limit council’s ability to speak with staff and the public’s ability to speak at council meetings. These reports give power to some on council to sanction others on council and staff power to determine which of the few public delegations they would allow at a council meeting can speak.

After being a council aficionado for over a decade I can certainly see the potential for bias to filter into the new decision-making process.

Our city manager believes that the crowd at meetings is there to witness how democracy works, not to be part of it, and that these meetings are for the council to make decisions, not for public input. Some councillors believe that once you vote in an election your participatory role is done; they make the decisions and you have no right to question.

Participatory democracy, part of the operating philosophy of Nanaimo’s strategic plan, is being threatened by the very folk who should be supporting it.

Gordon W. FullerNanaimo