Nov. 29th will be the first town hall meeting in Valemount since the new council was elected last October.
Valemount mayor Andru McCracken says good communication with the public was an election item. They haven’t yet had a public discussion forum outside Council meetings, and some councillors are receiving a lot of feedback at their day job, and feeling overwhelmed, McCracken says
“We have to be careful about loading up councillors, or even the mayor, with tons and tons of negative feedback. There are limits – and there are appropriate times. Don’t catch a councillor after a funeral and say ‘I want to talk about this issue that’s really important to me.’”
“At the same time we want to have a comfortable place for people to bring ideas and suggestions and good old fashion complaints.”
McCracken says council meetings are not always sufficient for public feedback – speakers can only address council for two minutes and the item has to refer to a subject on that meeting’s agenda.
Many residents are using online forums such as the Valemount Discussion Group on Facebook to air their complaints and concerns. Others stick to coffee shops.
McCracken says there’s the perception that when you come to council it’s “Council’s turf” whereas, a town hall meeting held outside council chambers is more the public’s turf – council is far outnumbered.
He says the meeting is not about asking residents for micro-managing tips – even council stays clear of micro-managing every aspect of the village.
“It can’t be managed by the whole community because people will be torn in a thousand pieces.”
He says while people shouldn’t have the expectation they’ll be running the town, their concerns and ideas can be heard and processed.
Part of the town hall will be soliciting feedback on how often to hold town hall meetings. McCracken says many options are on the table – from every six weeks to once a year.
He says town hall meetings could also be issue-based, like a public hearing on a particular subject.
He says this is the time for both positive suggestions on how the town could make money, for instance, and complaints. Council hopes to channel informal feedback to councillors into these meetings.