Former Vancouver park board commissioner Stuart Mackinnon questions new meeting schedule
A former Green park board commissioner by night and a schoolteacher by day, Stuart Mackinnon admits he’s “a bit of a process wonk”.
Having served one term on the board, from 2008 to 2011, Mackinnon told the Straight he finds the board’s new meeting structure “peculiar”. Earlier this year, the Vision Vancouver–dominated board adjusted the meeting schedule so that committee meetings happen right before meetings of the full board, all on one night.
“There is a reason why committee, for me, happens at least a week before the park board,” Mackinnon said by phone. “That’s so that, if something comes up, staff has time to go back and research and make changes. Quite often, an idea would be brought to a committee, commissioners would bat it around and listen to people, and then we would send off staff, saying, ‘We need to look at this, and we would like to see this.’ And it gave them a week, at least, to tweak it or to rejig it and then bring it back. That made sense to me.”
Ian Robertson, a Non-Partisan Association commissioner from 2005 to 2011, told the Straight of the new arrangement, “It’s ridiculous for a couple of reasons. First of all—and I think most importantly—it significantly limits the public to have discussion and debate, and to understand the issues by doing that. Secondly, it just jams everything into one night. Therefore, you’re not able to get a thoughtful and good discussion around an issue.”
Vision park board chair Sarah Blyth told the Straight one reason commissioners decided to change things was for greater simplicity.
“Take, for example, the seawall [motion from July 23],” Blyth said by phone. “We severed it, and we are putting it back to committee—because it was at committee—but we need to do a bit more…we want to bring up the issues of the past [relating to the foreshore in question].”
She admitted there may be initial “bumps” with the new approach.
“But I think that, overall, it’s a lot better,” Blyth said. “It saves money, which we can put back into our programming, and staff time to work on other things.”