The Public Galleries
The Public galleries are the rows of seats directly above three sides of the
Legislative Chamber (the fourth side is reserved for the
press and invited guests) and are open to the public when the Legislative Assembly is sitting. The Public galleries seat 167 people behind bronze railings and include two seats for those requiring wheelchair access. The entrances to the Public galleries are on the third floor.
For many years, visitors to the Public galleries needed an invitation from a sitting MLA. The public is now welcome any time the Assembly is sitting, but there are rules of conduct established by the
Speaker to ensure that no one disrupts the proceedings. Visitors are expected to be quiet and not wave, applaud, or comment on debates. No note-taking, cameras, or recording devices are permitted in the Public galleries.
Like the Public galleries, the meetings of
parliamentary committees may also be observed by the public in committee rooms.
Did you know?
In the earliest days of the
Westminster Parliament, the public was not allowed to witness debates. Until very recently, a Member in Westminster could stop proceedings and have the public gallery cleared by the
Sergeant-at-Arms by shouting "I spy strangers!" All persons who are not Members, officers, or staff of the Legislative Assembly are similarly referred to as strangers in B.C.'s Legislative Chamber, with one exception: infants. On March 8, 2018, the definition of a stranger was amended to "not include an infant being cared for by a Member." The adoption of this motion was recognized by all sides of the Assembly as a necessary step towards inclusivity by allowing MLAs with infants to attend sittings in the Chamber. Prior to this, it was strictly prohibited for an infant to be in the Chamber.