Council debated the impact changing their meeting day from Monday to Tuesday would have on how news is covered in St. Albert, ultimately deciding to make the switch to Tuesday during a recent organizational meeting.
At the Oct. 24 meeting — which council holds annually to approve items such as committee appointments and the deputy mayor schedule — councillors voted narrowly to change the meeting day and ultimately shift the time council meetings start up an hour to 1 p.m.
Much of council’s debate centred on the impact the day change would have on how members of the public receive their local news.
Because The St. Albert Gazette’s deadline for the Wednesday paper is Tuesday afternoon, decisions happening on a Tuesday meeting would likely have to be included in the paper the following week. However, the Gazette is dedicated to city council coverage and will post news online at stalberttoday.ca following council meetings.
According to the city’s 2021 Community Satisfaction Survey, the printed Gazette is by far the preferred information channel for residents.
“The public will know what we talked about but won’t know how we voted,” Coun. Sheena Hughes said, speaking in favour of keeping the day on Monday.
Other councillors said the change would give administration more time to answer council member’s questions after they read the agenda, as well as allowing members of the public more time to read administrative backgrounders before council meetings.
The agenda is released to the public Friday at 3 p.m.
“I do prefer Tuesdays to give residents more time to review and provide feedback on upcoming agendas,” Coun. Natalie Joly said. “Giving them the extra day is beneficial to my decision-making process.”
She noted as it stands, council meetings are occasionally moved to Tuesday due to some holidays falling on Mondays.
“Just having Tuesdays … just provides some predictability,” Joly said.
Mayor Cathy Heron noted council has considered the change before.
“The reason we continue to debate it is administration keeps bring it to us,” Heron said. “They would really like a Tuesday meeting — it is very, very busy here on Monday mornings.”
She noted in her time as a council member she is accustomed to reading agenda packages on weekends but said she would “love to read it on Mondays if I could.”
Coun. Mike Killick said he would also love to have the weekends for his family but argued it would be more important to keep the Monday meeting.
“This is just basic, simple communication of what transpires at council,” Killick said. “It’s important to our residents, and Monday seems to work well … nobody wants to read week-old news.”
Ultimately, an amendment put forward by Coun. Sheena Hughes to keep the meeting date on Mondays failed 4-3, with Hughes, Killick, and Coun. Ken MacKay in support.
Council also approved changing the meeting time by moving it up an hour.
Joly said changing the meeting to happen right after lunch time would help get the ball rolling on the council meeting instead of having council members waiting for the meeting to begin.
“It’s just practical,” she said.