City councils new citizen comment format draws praise

first_imgFire station grant stirs concernsThe first citizen’s forum between the Vancouver City Council and residents Monday was rather lightly attended and full of familiar faces, but both sides largely said they liked the new format for communication.Council members jibed, joked and just talked with the approximately 10 people who attended the new bimonthly forum at City Hall.“One of the things I’d like to thank you for is this way to do business, this give and take,” said Dick Sohn, who came to talk about his opposition to the proposed Interstate 5 bridge project. “I used to feel like you were looking everywhere — at the wall behind me — but at me, waiting for me to finish. I feel like you’re listening for the first time.”Mayor Tim Leavitt drew public ire when he first proposed changes to the citizen communication portion of council’s regular public meetings. At first, the mayor said he was going to turn off CVTV cameras during the new forums. After discussions, the council approved allowing citizens to speak weekly at the beginning of the meeting on items that are on that night’s agenda. For topics not on the agenda, people can speak during 90-minute citizen forums held after the council’s biweekly consent agenda meetings.At Monday’s forum, speakers rarely strayed from their regular topics of the Columbia River Crossing, light rail and tolling. But a few had other concerns, including water and sewer rate increases, public safety and flooding sidewalks.City Manager Eric Holmes handed his business card to one man concerned about his increased water bill, while council members joined Leavitt in chiming in on the different topics, offering websites for research and other tips.last_img read more