EDITORIAL: Bleary ayes

West Vancouver is committed to the democratic ideal of free flowing public dialogue at each and every council meeting. We commend them. And we are asking them to please fine tune that free flow.

Today’s paper doesn’t have any news on a 390-unit Sentinel Hill proposal because, despite starting an hour early, council ran out of time Monday night.

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A council meeting in May stretched past five hours. In June, a meeting rolled past midnight. Lack of sleep has been cited as a possible factor in the space shuttle Challenger explosion and the Three Mile Island disaster. The stakes at a West Vancouver council meeting aren’t life and death, but the impact is still serious.

A firefighter stood by the door Monday night because chambers were at capacity. But after four hours of waiting to hear and be heard, many of those council watchers walked out with the impression that showing up – the hallmark of democracy – is pointless in West Vancouver.

We lose time to redundant points, irrelevant stories, and spontaneous amendments. There are residents who regard the three-minute speaking limit as a guideline for everyone else. And of course, there are eruptions of cheers and boos – forbidden elsewhere – that eat up the clock while quieting the silent, polite majority.

In its attempt to do justice to every individual, this all-you-can-eat approach to democracy does a disservice to the municipality. Residents with children to tuck in, early morning shifts to get to, and those who lack the physical endurance to spend five hours in a windowless room end up being silenced. West Van needs to find a way to talk a little less. Maybe then, someone will say something worth hearing.

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