Editorial: It’s about time — no need for Saanich council to meet into wee hours

Editorial: It’s about time — no need for Saanich council to meet into wee hours

It has taken far too long to reach this point, but it’s not too late. It has dawned on Saanich councillors that they are not at their best at 1 a.m., and they think that maybe it’s time to talk about it.

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That, in a nutshell, sums up what will happen at Monday’s meeting, when council members will discuss giving themselves a curfew.

Saanich council’s meeting on June 18 ended at 1:40 a.m. June 19. It was hardly the first time Saanich council meetings have gone past midnight.

We would like to be kind about what happens in Saanich council chambers, but let’s be blunt instead.

A meeting that extends past 11 p.m. is not only a sign of poor governance, it is an unjustified imposition on staff members who have to endure the marathons, listening to councillors who have nothing to say but want to say it anyway. It is an insult to the members of the public who try to stay abreast of what is happening in local government.

Does anyone really believe that good decisions are made at the end of a six-hour meeting, one that ends after the late-night TV shows are over? We would guess that only a handful of people would believe that, but sadly, they are the ones running the asylum.

A late meeting also sends a strong message to anyone considering a bid for council. If you have a day job, do not run. If you have to be in class in the morning, do not run. If you have common sense, do not run.

It must be asked: What is so different about Saanich that requires its councillors to keep talking long after the elected officials in B.C.’s 161 other municipalities have gone to bed? The answer: nothing.

Something must be done. Fortunately, there are some good examples of properly managed meetings that, with luck, will inspire the people who run the largest municipality in the Capital Regional District.

In Vancouver, council must adjourn by 10 p.m. unless councillors unanimously pass a resolution to extend the meeting by one hour or less. A bylaw in Victoria says council meetings must end at 11 p.m.; a motion to extend the meeting must set a firm end time.

If other councils can show respect to their communities, Saanich’s should be able to do the same — and this discussion should not keep them up until the wee hours.

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