Council changes meeting times
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 08:38 am
A foothills town council is following in the footsteps of neighbouring community with a decision it hopes will save money and get the public involved.
Black Diamond Town Council agreed at its regular meeting on Feb. 5 to reschedule its committee of the whole meetings to the fourth Tuesday of each month at 9:30 a.m. on a seven-month trial basis.
The change will save the cost of paying staff to attend the evening meetings and to draw residents who were unable to attend meetings, which were held the first Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m.
At committee of the whole meetings council often meets with its various committees and discusses issues on the agenda, although no decisions are made at these meetings.
The change begins on Feb. 25 and ends Sept. 23 with meetings continuing to take place in the municipal building. Regular council meetings will resume the first and third Wednesday of each month.
“A lot of the other communities in close proximity have moved to daytime,” said Black Diamond Mayor Sharlene Brown, listing Okotoks, High River and the MD of Foothills councils as examples. “It’s only at a trial basis at this point in time so we can determine whether or not it is a viable solution.”
Brown said running the committee of the whole meeting in the day is more convenient for council, staff and committee members, adding the date selected was based on council’s availability and work schedule.
The suggestion was brought to council by staff administration following Turner Valley’s decision last month to hold its committee of the whole meetings during the day on a three-month trial.
With so few members of the public attending the meetings, chief administrative officer Joanne Irwin hopes the change will draw more people to the meetings.
“We get people telling us, ‘I would really like to come to council to speak to this issue but it’s so late at night,’” she said. “For the people who are available during the day they find the evening meetings are too late.”
Irwin also understands some residents work out of town during the day and can’t attend day meetings.
“We just thought we would give it a try and see if it works,” she said. “If it doesn’t we can always just return to what we did before.”
The change will cut costs associated with staff working extra hours to attend the meetings, said Irwin.
“We are trying to cut back on costs and we are trying to make it a bit more economically feasible,” said Irwin.
Irwin said the late hours are hard on staff members required to attend the meetings after working a full day in the office.
The change will also be suitable to those on committees who are asked to attend the committee of the whole meetings to provide updates and reports.
Irwin said some committee members haven’t been able to attend the meetings because they weren’t available during the evening, and daytime meetings will be more convenient for them.