Vision Dominated Park Board to Limit Information and Debate
Posted: Jun 25, 2012
25th June, 2012, Vancouver, BC - Vision Vancouver's new Park Board Committee Chair, Niki Sharma has circulated new interpretations of bylaws for the running of Park Board and Committee meetings. Commissioner Sharma's rigid interpretation will limit debate and threaten the independence of the Park Board. The Vancouver Park Board has followed Roberts Rules, without city procedure for decades.
"There will be no questions to staff" during the Park Board's consideration of motions stated Niki Sharma in her email to Commissioners on Friday night. Commissioners will also be limited to five minutes of questions on staff reports. This limit may not be enough time to ask questions of staff and could remove the ability of Park Board Commissioners to get the information about the impact and value of a potential motion. Commissioner Sharma seems to think that following this procedure will allow for equal distribution of time among Commissioners who, up until now, have all been entitled to an equal and unlimited amount of time for discussion and questions.
NPA Commissioners are highly concerned with the change. Commissioner Coupar has stated "Both NPA Commissioners Melissa DeGenova and I were concerned that moving both meetings to the same night would limit informed debate. We were also concerned that by jamming both meetings into one night, that Vision Vancouver's next step would be time limits on debate and questions as per City Hall."
"A few months later with no consultation we all receive an email advising us of Committee Chair Sharma's interpretation of the rules... I am very concerned that even with a 5 to 2 majority on the Board they are not content. This new process will be rammed through without consultation and a long and time tested formula that ensures informed debate will be lost".
Commissioner DeGenova added "by enforcing new rules and regulations, mimicking city council procedures, the Park Board is losing its autonomy and independence."
"There are reasons commissioners in the past have had unlimited discussion and access when asking questions of staff, because it is necessary in many cases, some questions and monumentally important issues can't be answered or clarified in less than five minutes."
"The proposed procedure only allows commissioners more time based on a vote of the board, this politicizes issues and muzzles all Commissioners except the Vision majority. The interest of the public again suffers due to politics."