Mayor proposes earlier meeting time
Nolan Crouse suggesting council meetings start at 2 p.m., an hour earlier
Wednesday, Jul 02, 2014 06:00 am
St. Albert city council’s meetings could start a little earlier if a suggestion from the mayor is followed.
Mayor Nolan Crouse sent out a notice of motion last week proposing that, for meetings occurring after the annual organizational meeting this fall, council meetings should begin at 2 p.m. rather than the current practice of 3 p.m.
Public hearings would still be scheduled for 5 p.m.
Crouse said there’s a few reasons why he’s bringing this suggestion to the floor.
One is that many larger municipalities and neighbouring city governments start their council meeting earlier in the day.
The second is how council can react to meetings that run long.
“Over my years I started to watch and observe I guess the behaviours and I think that people start to get more impatient at seven, eight o’clock at night,” Crouse said.
Usually in camera items, which can either be legal, land or labour matters, are dealt with last.
“You don’t want people making fast decisions, or impatient decisions,” Crouse said.
St. Albert’s council can end up having special meetings other days of the week, and Crouse said they’ve given feedback to each other suggesting the preference would be to focus those on a Monday rather than scattered throughout the week.
The change would also respect city staff who attend the meetings and have to stay late, Crouse said. Some get overtime for staying but others don’t.
Crouse said a 5 p.m. start time for public hearings – which draw the most attendees to council – probably strikes the right balance and would remain the same.
“Five o’clock is a good optimum ’cause it’s before supper, it’s before people are going to get into their evening things, but it’s still, quote, after work,” Crouse said.
But outside of public hearings, Crouse said the numbers don’t show a higher attendance later in the day.
“I think it’s a false understanding … that you’re going to have higher attendance after supper at a council meeting. The fact is you don’t,” Crouse said.
Since the election Crouse has been recording the number of people in the council chambers’ public gallery on the hour every hour during meetings.
With the exception of controversial public hearings, Crouse points out the trend normally shows the numbers shrinking as the meeting goes on.