Burnaby City Hall. (Dustin Godfrey)

Cancelled council meeting will push important matters until after election: outgoing councillor

Burnaby city council members voted on Tuesday to cancel the Sept. 19 meeting, in order to observe a day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II.

By Srushti Gangdev | September 16, 2022 |5:01 am

An outgoing city councillor says a council meeting cancelled on account of the official day of mourning for the death of the British monarch means important business will likely be postponed until after the municipal election.

Burnaby city council members voted on Tuesday to cancel the regular Sept. 19 meeting, in order to observe the funeral proceedings of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Sept. 8.

A special meeting was called Tuesday to decide what to do, before the provincial government had officially declared the day a public holiday but after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had announced a holiday for federal employees.

Councillors had several options to consider: postponing the meeting to the next day (Sept. 20) or the following week (Sept. 26), or cancelling it outright and pushing all business to the regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 3.

“My position was—we shouldn’t cancel at all. … Unless the province comes out and says it’s a holiday, right?” Coun. Colleen Jordan told the Beacon.

“And, especially, we shouldn’t cancel our meeting and give ourselves the day off, and not [give] staff the day off.”

The last council meeting was held on Aug. 29, meaning there will be a nearly six-week period without a meeting at all. The next meeting on Oct. 3 will be the last one held before the municipal election on Oct. 15.

Jordan, who is not running for reelection, said in an interview that it’s “ridiculous” to go that long without having a meeting. And she even suggested that some council members may have jumped at the chance to avoid too many meetings in the run up to the election.

“I think that there was some motivation on behalf of people that are running again—as long as they can stay away from the council tables, and I [or other councillors] can’t bring forward motions that they may not wish to deal with before the election,” she said.

“It takes the opportunity [away] for decisions to be made that might cause controversy, or anything that might get negative attention in the press or in the public, right? I mean, there’ll be nothing.”

She pointed out that Monday’s council meeting would have dealt with second readings for several rezoning applications, which will now have to be delayed by another two weeks—costing the developers and companies behind those projects more money.

However, in Tuesday’s meeting, Coun. Pietro Calendino said that an additional two-week waiting period is not out of the ordinary for developers, who would be able to continue working on other necessary materials in the interim.

Calendino said Tuesday that while he was personally fine with cancelling Monday’s council meeting, he wasn’t sure that the city should declare a paid holiday for its public employees if the province did not declare its own.

“I’m not in favour of declaring a holiday—I’m not sure a holiday for the Queen’s funeral and Reconciliation are compatible. I wouldn’t vote in favour of giving staff a holiday without consulting with First Nations,” he told his fellow councillors.

Coun. Alison Gu agreed with that statement.

While Mayor Mike Hurley suggested simply moving the meeting to the next day in order to carry on with business as much as possible, council ultimately voted to cancel the meeting altogether.

Later that day, the province declared Sept. 19 a holiday for public employees. Burnaby City Hall will be closed, and some other city services will be reduced.

A second motion Tuesday to cancel all committee meetings until the New Year was amended slightly—committees will meet as usual until the election, after which they will be paused until January to give Hurley (recently acclaimed once more as mayor) time to make committee appointments from the new city council.

Srushti Gangdev

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

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