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HomeBusinessBurnaby city council candidate says meeting policy unfairly favours incumbents

Burnaby city council candidate says meeting policy unfairly favours incumbents

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Bob Mackin

Garbage!

That’s what Martin Kendell thinks about the Burnaby city clerk’s decision to prevent him from speaking about garbage at a city council meeting on Oct. 29

Burnaby city council candidate Martin Kendell (Kendell campaign)

Kendell’s application to appear as a delegation was denied because he is running for city council, even though the window to officially register for the Oct. 15 ballot didn’t open until Aug. 30.

Kendell, an independent, said his presentation was simple, to tell council how he had cleaned up 1,200 pounds of garbage, and organized five community cleanup events where another 1,500 pounds were picked up, while using city-provided trash pickup equipment, such as tongs and buckets. 

“I kind of want to thank council for that,” Kendell said. “And also a challenge to the municipal parties, One Burnaby, Burnaby Greens and Burnaby Citizens Association, to take part in the cleanup part of the campaign as they go and do the doorknocking for the next month-and-a-half or so leading up to the election.”

Kendell said it was not about self-promotion, but giving credit where credit is due.

City clerk Blanka Zeinabova did not respond. City hall spokesman Chris Bryan said it has been the city’s practice for 30 years to prohibit declared candidates from appearing before council within two months of an election.

If someone is seeking donations through a website or putting up signs in the community, “an individual is for all intents and purposes considered a candidate and therefore not permitted to appear before council,” Bryan said. 

Bryan said it is also the practice of the city clerk’s office to limit citizens to speaking once a year at a council meeting on a particular topic. That, too, does not appear on the city’s “appear as a delegation” web page. 

“In the case of Mr. Kendell, he appeared as a delegation before Council twice earlier this year, once on the topic he intended to speak to at the August 29 meeting, and once on another topic,” Bryan said. “He is welcome to return as a delegation in the new year.”

Kendell says none of the rules appear on the web page for registration or the candidate guide.

“If this policy exists, they need to do a much better job of publishing that and letting people know about that as well,” he said.

Kendell said there is “a bit of hypocrisy” because nothing limits incumbent politicians from using the pre-election council meetings to promote their policies. At tonight’s meeting, he said, four BCA councillors are tabling an Affordable Purpose-Built Rentals motion to accelerate co-op housing development.

“It’s going to be a huge part of their election platform when it comes to affordable housing,” he said. “For the councillors who are standing for re-election, they can do that no problem, but same time, myself, who doesn’t have tens of thousands of dollars of campaign donations in the bank, I can’t even present in a non-political way.” 

Bryan said members of council hold office until the end of the term and may continue to fulfil their responsibilities and represent constituents.

Kendell finished eighth, with 1,445 votes, in the race for two open seats in Burnaby’s June 2021 city council by-election.

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