Council changed some of its ways to deal with the pandemic. The time is appropriate to review other procedures to better inform citizens on the public workings of council. The highly technical section of the agenda dealing with “Site planning and architectural integration requests’’ or “Minor exemptions requests’’ should be made clear to the public. Decisions on these issues deal with new construction, renovation or additions to buildings and have a direct impact on our environment and day-to-day living. Understanding better what’s at stake, what bylaws are involved, and what consequences the council’s decisions will have, is crucial.
A few years ago, the large screen showing the council’s meeting agenda used to show diagrams to visualize what the requests were and provide a general context. It was easier to understand and to question a decision before council gave it its final approval. Before being presented to council, the requests are examined by the Consultative Committee on Urbanism (CCU) or on the Environment (CCE). These committees’ reports are public but few people consult them unless they have a reason to do so. Hence the need to be more explicit during public sittings of council.
Understanding the workings of council requires some basic knowledge but helping citizens navigate through it can only help make our democratic life healthier and our council more accountable.