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A public hearing on the Municipality of Yarmouth's Planning Strategy and Land-Use By-Law. The meeting was held at the Hebron Rotary Centre (Acadia News Photo)

Municipality of Yarmouth to allow public comments at meetings

By Kevin Northup Jan 25, 2024 | 11:40 AM

Members of the public will soon be allowed to speak at Municipality of the District of Yarmouth meetings.

A motion to grant 15 minutes at the end of meetings was passed at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Each speaker will have three minutes, and comments must be about municipal issues, and directed to the council as a whole.

It came up after presentations from some community members, asking council to allow a space for questions from the public.

Warden John Cunningham researched other municipal units in the province.

The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg and the Town of Kentville have a policy to allow the practice, while the municipalities of Clare, Argyle and Barrington allow the chairperson to make that decision on the fly.

Councillors Patti Durkee and Sheri Hurlburt voted against the motion, saying there are already ways for people to provide feedback.

Hurlburt noted the potential for some members of the public to try and derail council’s ability to govern.

She says while she encourages public participation, council needs to be careful how they proceed.

Warden Cunningham says he’s looking forward to it.

“As long as everyone is respectful, I’m looking forward to making sure that the needs of council, staff and the public are met. It’s a way to make us more transparent,” said Cunningham.

The policy will be a trial run until the end of council’s term this October.