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Maple Ridge bylaw amendment 'challenges democracy': city councillor

Last Updated Feb 6, 2020 at 12:35 pm PDT

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Summary

Changes to the city's council procedure bylaw passed last month is causing concern for one councillor

Coun. Kiersten Duncan wants to reverse an amendment she says challenges democracy

Duncan hopes public feedback will help revisit the amendment, hopefully reversing it

MAPLE RIDGE (NEWS 1130) — It was approved more than three weeks ago, but a bylaw amendment in Maple Ridge limiting criticism of councillors and city staff appears to only now be sparking outrage online.

One line in the change to the city’s council procedure bylaw caused Coun. Kiersten Duncan to raise her eyebrows, which says people can “no longer question the motive of a councillor, or government official, or city employee.”

“The reason that’s concerning is because no longer being able to question a city councillor on their motive means you can no longer say you feel that they’re in conflict of interest,” Duncan says. She voted against the amendment because of this, though she did agree with much of the other changes, like not talking on your cell phone during a meeting.

RELATED: Bylaw in Maple Ridge regulating council behaviour faces backlash

She argues not allowing people to question the motives of a Council Member, Government Official, or City employee during a meeting challenges democracy.

“They absolutely need the right to be able to do that and so do other members of council,” she says.

Duncan believes not enough people heard about the bylaw change, and hopes by raising awareness it’ll pressure councillors to revisit the amendment. She plans to go to the mayor with public feedback. Some debate on social media questions whether the change is constitutional.

“I’m deeply concerned that this was put into the bylaw, and I don’t know why it has been included,” she says, but emphasizes she does not think anyone tried to sneak this amendment into the bylaw. Duncan adds, she does not recall it being discussed before.