New procedures for public presentations, hearings
New rules are in effect for public hearings and for residents wanting to present to council.
On Feb. 20, city council officially passed the third reading of changes to their procedure bylaw. Aside from changes to wording and definitions, the new bylaw includes major revisions to the section outlining the process for public hearings, as well as how members of the public can come to council to speak.
Council must now pass the first reading of a bylaw before deciding when to hold a public hearing on it, instead of having the public hearing at the same meeting as first reading.
As for public presentations, presenters need to register five business days in advance if they are not speaking about something already on the agenda and provide the city with copies of their presentation at least 30 minutes before the meeting.
Council also approved changes to two policies in order to have them reflect the bylaw update.
The changes passed in a 6-1 vote with Coun. Sheena Hughes opposed. Hughes voiced her opposition in January as well when council passed the first two readings of the bylaw.
She said on Feb. 20 she found the changes unnecessary and re-iterated she would not support anything that created “additional barriers” to residents coming to council to present.
Coun. Ray Watkins, Coun. Ken MacKay and Mayor Cathy Heron voiced support of the changes before voting, with Watkins and MacKay saying they did not see the changes as creating deterrents for speakers.
Workshops to be put into policy
Councillors agreed unanimously on Feb. 20 to have city staff draw up a policy governing when and how council members can hold workshops, briefings and training sessions.
Since being elected in October, council members have attended several workshops dedicated to specific topics, such as changes to the procedure bylaw and Smart City. However, there are currently no parameters governing such workshops, where minutes are not taken, and they were not initially being advertised.
Coun. Sheena Hughes brought the motion forward to have workshops put into policy. Although she said she is personally against having workshops, she wants to see some constraints on how workshops happen.
Mayor Cathy Heron said work has already begun on regulating workshops and training sessions, noting the motion gives council direction to move forward on.
Coun. Natalie Joly, who previously gave notice for a similar motion before deciding not to move it forward, said it is important for council to have clarity on workshops.
Restriction on conferences lifted
Councillors removed a section of their remuneration and expense reimbursement policy limiting how many council members can attend annual conferences from Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) or Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
Now, all seven council members will be able to attend the provincial and national conferences.
The policy previously allowed six or fewer council members to attend, partly under the rationalization of ensuring “business continuity in the event that a catastrophic event affects the entire council,” according to an agenda report accompanying the motion.