Vancouver park board rules rile NPA commissioner John Coupar
NPA park commissionerJohn Coupar is assailing incoming Vision Vancouver park-board committee chair Niki Sharma over her interpretation of bylaws governing how meetings are to be run. Coupar has claimed that Sharma's interpretation will limit debate and threaten the independence of the park board.
According to Coupar, commissioners will be limited to five minutes of questions to staff during discussions about their reports. He claimed that after the discussion period ends, there will be no questions to staff during consideration of motions.
Coupar told the Straight by phone that commissioners and the public may not have adequate or timely access to information, in part because last year, the Vision-controlled board moved the committee meeting to the same night as the full-board meeting.
“Generally, the committee meetings have always been a little less formal, and they've been on a different night,” Coupar explained. “So delegations have been able to come and speak about issues a little informally. And I think we get more information that way. I am concerned that we're not going to have the same ability to ask questions as we have in the past.”
Sharma told the Straight she's merely applying rules that already exist to govern meetings so that time can be distributed fairly.
“As chair, you have discretion—if there are more questions needed—to allow more questions,” Sharma said of Coupar's concerns. “But the point is that, instead of it going back and forth all around, I thought it would be more efficient for each commissioner to just have their time slot. Like, ‘Here's your chance. Ask the staff all the questions you want to ask them, and then we'll move on to the next commissioner.' What was happening before is that there would be a question and then we'd have to go around again, and then maybe go back to that commissioner, and then a follow-up. And it just wasn't an efficient use of time.”
Sharma claimed it will still be possible “to gather information at the committee level and keep it at the committee level” if necessary, rather than it spilling over into the full-board meetings.