By Kenyon Stronski
Sunny South News
Following Coalhurst council’s regular meeting regarding the changing, replacing, and merging of committees, one proposal was brought along to their Oct. 18 regular meeting. Alongside this proposal came a change to Procedural Bylaw 438-22 wherein the start and end times of council and Committee of the Whole meetings were proposed changes. Interim CAO Jeffery Coffman presented on the changes to council’s start times.
“You might recall your organizational meeting a year ago where there was a motion to actually amend the start time of the council meetings and Committee of the Whole meetings. You’ll note under this bylaw section one there’s a bit of a proposed amendment to section 6.2. Delete that and place that with ‘regular meetings of council commence at 6 p.m. and adjourn later at 9 p.m. unless while in session with a motion being passed to extend the time to 9:30 p.m. and this is basically taking exactly what you have, moving it back an hour and then moving all the time accordingly back an hour,” said Coffman. “I’m assuming members of council weren’t still wanting to go until 10:30 p.m. and that was an assumption on my part, but if members of council are okay with that. The second one is because members of council all wish to have it applied to Committee of the Whole meetings in Section 8 and it’s almost the same verbiage. When there’s no regular meeting held is basically the end of it, and it’s saying to extend it to 9:30 p.m.”
Changing the meeting’s start time has a few implications that follow it, mainly that it could make it easier for members of the public to attend if it didn’t start or go too late. Coun. Jesse Potrie brought this to light.
“I think having the public attend these meetings, if it’s easier for them, is a concern as well, so I think it’d be good to get their feedback as well so I would support first reading in order to start that process surely.”
The first reading was passed with the second and third readings scheduled for Nov. 1.
The new committee being introduced to council was dubbed the Agenda Setting committee and stands as the first new committee to be introduced following the talk after the last regular meeting.
“Coming from conversations the council had around committees, one of the ideas that arose was to have an Agenda Setting committee. This would be one of the first committees that you would actually reorganize and institute as quickly and feasibly as possible,” began Coffman. “What’s in front of you is just proposed terms of reference for the purpose of membership for meetings, the schedule and the idea behind an actual Agenda Setting committee. This, of course, is a draft and it’s for the members of council to play with, change, reject and then as you see fit. On the second page of the packet is the ‘council agenda request form’ and this would be submitted by members of council and if there’s an item they would like to have on the agenda. It’s trying to tie into strategic planning or an existing bylaw and policy however it can actually be anything. If you want to discuss the colour of the flag you’re obviously welcome to do this. This is council’s agenda, this is council’s meeting so this is about councillors bringing forward the ideas and things that are interests in the community.”
The idea would be to have a committee review information on the agenda, or for councillors to bring it forward, so a recommendation can be brought while new agendas are being drafted.
“The committee would then review the information on here and have a recommendation coming up. The idea of course is to review the agenda prior to going to council, in fact, establishing what information would be on the agenda and then reviewing it prior to it being sent out to council. It’s the opportunity to codify a process and help the council actually take control of the council agenda and the place where you debate to present ideas to the community.”
Coun. Deborah Florence voiced her support for the committee, saying the terms of reference are fantastic and she’s excited to start taking the steps in formalizing council processes.
“I absolutely love it — I love the terms of reference. I thought they were really great. I think that it’s that first step in really formalizing our processes and working towards a more engaged council so I’m really excited about this community in the terms of reference as well as the formalized process for agenda items.”
With the idea of a motion in the air, council discussed if they should wait for Mayor Lyndsay Montina to return at the next meeting to fully pass it, as Montina would be the chair of the committee.
“I think that with talks previously and through administration to put the terms of reference together while the mayor was here I think that we, in my opinion, have enough information to move this forward,” said Florence. “This is something that Mayor Montina indicated she very much wanted and so because there’s no benefits I would be comfortable making a motion to move this forward.”
Coun. Scott Akerrmans agreed, stating if it was needed the terms of reference can always be changed down the road if a change is recognized.
“But I think this is something that we want to get a little bit sooner than later so let’s support Councillor Florence in getting this one going. If we have any necessary changes that we need to make we can make it down the line.”
The motion was carried.