Notices of motion lead to fiery Langley Township council debate

Too many arguments ensue during debate, says Councillor Bob Long

In a bid to end infighting over procedure, Langley Township council is calling on outside help.

A majority voted on Monday, Sept. 30 to adopt Mayor Jack Froese’s proposal to bring in a “facilitator” to sit down with the mayor and councillors in a bid to end the conflict over the way council conducts its business.

The latest battle erupted when Councillor Bob Long said something had to be done about time-consuming debates over notices of motion that any member of council can file on any issue.

Before council debates such proposals, Long said they should be reviewed by staff first.

The Long proposal would require a “referral to staff for an information report as to the background, financial implications and staff recommendations prior to any action being taken …”

It would provide “more opportunity for reflection,” Long said, and produce “far more intelligent debate” than the arguments that often erupt at the end of council meetings when notices of motion are presented and “a certain amount of fatigue is involved.”

There was considerable push-back at the afternoon meeting, with Councillor Kim Richter calling the Long proposal “anti-democratic” and possibly illegal.

“Why are we dragging staff into screening everything?” Richter said.

“All this is doing is wrapping us in more and more and more and more red tape.”

Councillor Charlie Fox defended his admittedly many notices of motion as necessary.

“I don’t think I bring frivolous notices of motion to council,” Fox said.

Concillor Michelle Sparrow said she had problems with “quelling” notices of motion that councillors use to raise matters of concern to residents.

“I’ve yet to find another way of doing the people’s business,” Sparrow said.

Councillor Bev Dornan said her impression is that, compared to other B.C. municipalities, Langley seems to generate “significantly more” notices of motion.

Mayor Froese said though he has no position one way or the other on notices of motion, something must be done about the battles over process.

Bringing in a facilitator would help councillors “fully discuss” the broader issue, Froese said.

His proposal was adopted with a 6-3 vote.

Councillor Steve Ferguson noted a considerable amount of time had been devoted to a “notice of motion dealing with notices of motion.”

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