Newly-elected councillors put on their learning caps
In-person sessions and electronic modules offer flexibility, variety of training
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 06:00 am
Now that the election is over, it’s time for the newly elected councillors to get on with learning the business of governing St. Albert.
To help the first-time councillors and the incumbents, city staff have designed orientation sessions to take them through how the governing and administrative management of St. Albert works.
“We’ve been working on it for about five to six months,” said city manager Patrick Draper. “We’ve designed it to be both informative and flexible.”
Orientation is flexible by offering a combination of in-person and electronic video and text modules, rather than having councillors sit through just in-person sessions.
“By doing this electronic delivery we’re actually able to avoid about five to six days of in person meeting times,” Draper said.
The online video and slideshow presentations cover topics like municipal governance, legal and legislative matters, the strategic framework of the city and other matters.
In addition to the in-person sessions, which started on Wednesday, there will be training items like a mock council meeting, Draper said. The training sessions and electronic modules were developed in-house by city staff, tapping subject matter experts and training specialists.
“This has been well thought out by staff,” said Sheena Hughes, one of the three new councillors. While neither Hughes, Tim Osborne or Gilles Prefontaine had been able to start the electronic modules yet, they appreciated the idea of allowing them the opportunity to complete the modules according to their own schedules.
Hughes said the Wednesday training session was well-organized. “It’s certainly a lot of information to process in one day, but it was very well done,” she said.
“It’s a bit like drinking from a fire hose,” Osborne said. “There’s a lot of information coming all at once.”
The first item on council’s agenda after their organizational meeting on Nov. 4 will be tackling budget, starting with the city manager’s presentation to council Nov. 12.
“The city has been well-prepared in terms of brining us newbies on board and providing us with a whole bunch of materials to really get us prepared for what will be a very intense November with budget coming forward,” Prefontaine said.
Osborne said the budget will be an “interesting challenge” and Hughes is looking forward to working through the numbers.
Orientation is also about getting to know the other councillors and mayor.
“The wonderful thing about yesterday’s orientation was the opportunity for us as council, councillors as well as the mayor, to really sit down and have an opportunity to get to know each other,” Prefontaine said.