A lightning fast council meeting tonight – by my watch, 51 minutes from start to finish.
Not a lot of interesting news to note in terms of new business; the by-law brought to Council last week, however, with regards to eliminating the City Page in the St. Catharines Standard passed third reading. This is, in my opinion, a very big mistake, and does not speak well for a city council that keeps talking about transparency.
There is a large population in this city that is not computer-savvy. With one of the oldest populations in Canada, there is a segment of the community that gets most of its information from the newspaper; getting rid of the most direct form of communication with the electorate is not only a bad idea, it is simply unfair. Seniors and low-income earners will be hardest hit by this measure, with information related to city governance placed out of reach for many of them.
A bigger question for me, however, is how will local citizens even know to seek out information? In many cases, people are unaware of public meetings and such until they read about them in the paper. By eliminating the city page, finding out about these events becomes an active affair, rather than passive. An example of this would be during the recent budget presentations, when several city councillors bemoaned the lack of public input. Yet here they are a month later eliminating the best means of engaging the populace.
It doesn’t make any sense. Council should be ashamed for pushing forward a bylaw that decreases transparency and accountability.