Andrea Rondeau column: Barnburners pack them in, otherwise, not so much

It always seems like the really exciting news happens just after our print deadline.

It always seems like the really exciting news happens just after our print deadline.

I know objectively this isn’t true, but it sure feels like it when the call goes out for a big fire, or a big decision is made by one of our governments an hour after we’ve wrapped up our Friday edition on Thursday afternoon. This means you won’t see it in print until the following Wednesday. We’ll have it on our website of course (www.cowichanvalleycitizen.com), but we still like to bring you the latest on the printed page, too, and nothing makes us grind our teeth like having to wait to put it to ink and paper.

Which is one of the reasons we weren’t exactly jumping for joy in the newsroom when North Cowichan made the decision last week to move their public hearings to Thursday evenings.

From our news perspective, this is less than ideal. But that’s not all that was driving my slight lack of enthusiasm for this new plan. I’ve been a journalist and editor for many years now and I’ve seen public hearings held with council meetings and separate, in the evenings. I’ve seen council meetings themselves held in the evenings. I can tell you, in my experience, evenings don’t mean any more members of the public making the trek to the council chamber to take part or listen in person than afternoons do.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an admirable idea and the impulse is genuine. Council wants to get more people involved, make sure people feel like they can access North Cowichan’s government and decision making process.

Even if councillors just find it easier to curb sometimes marathon council meetings by separating this particular business out, perhaps it’s worth it.

But over the years I’ve learned that if there is a barnburner of an issue, a controversial development, for example, council chambers will be packed to overflowing no matter what time of day they’re addressing the issue. And the rest of the time there will be only a few stragglers and municipal politics junkies and they’ll be there whenever council is in session. Often on the really controversial ones there are additional public meetings already held in evenings anyway.

So while North Cowichan council can try evening public hearings, I’m not betting the farm, to borrow an expression, on them packing in any more regular spectators.

Perhaps I will be proven incorrect, and this is the chance constituents have been waiting for. It’s not an unworthy experiment, at the least.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Business notes: WINGS set to close on Aug. 29

A few of the things going on in Cowichan’s business community

Collision knocks over fire hydrant on Ypres Street

Duncan firefighters quick to get situation under control

Pumps not needed on the Cowichan River this year

Wet year so far has resulted in higher water levels

Pig destined for sanctuary goes missing from Cobble Hill farm

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Devil’s Hand Poker Run in Campbell River to face RCMP scrutiny

The Campbell River RCMP will be keeping a close eye on the… Continue reading

B.C.’s fuel suppliers to publish prices to provide accountability: minister

Bruce Ralston says move will ensure industry publicly accountable for unexplained prices increases

Roots and Blues online festival live tonight on Black Press Media

Tune in to Black Press Media to watch the festival live Aug. 14, 15 and 16

Man suffers serious injuries in bear attack in remote area near Lillooet

It was deemed a defensive attack, no efforts were made to locate the animal

Missed rent payments because of COVID-19? You have until July 2021 to pay up

Each monthly instalment must be paid on the same date the rent is due

U.S.-Canada pandemic border restrictions extended into September

‘We will continue to keep our communities safe,’ says Public Safety Minister Bill Blair

Most Read