Changes finalized to way council meetings held

Written by Stu Salkeld

Big Valley village council finalized changes to the bylaw that governs how they hold their meetings. The decisions were made at the March 10 regular meeting of council.

Village Chief Administrative officer (CAO) Tracy Mindus brought back to council changes to their procedural bylaw. 

The bylaw, which lays out how council will conduct their business, had been discussed at a previous meeting on the request of Coun. Gail Knudson, who wanted more information about council meetings made available earlier to the public.

Knudson was absent from the February council meeting where the procedural bylaw was to be discussed, so Mayor Dan Houle and Coun. Amber Hoogenberg decided to table it to the March meeting so Knudson could comment before the bylaw was considered for third reading.

Upon examining the bylaw, Knudson asked several questions, including about Section 5-11, Special Council Meetings. 

It stated a special council meeting could be held without the standard 24 hours notice and without the public present if two-thirds of council voted in favour. 

Knudson stated it was her understanding that the public has to have access to all council meetings.

Mindus responded that this section of the bylaw is intended for emergency situations where councillors need to meet quickly and don’t have time for the public to attend.

Knudson also asked about Section 9-2, Public Delegations, and asked if requiring the public who request to speak to council as a delegation submit their requests with seven days notice was enough time. 

Knudson suggested 10 days be required, which would give the village staff enough time to get the delegation information on the proper agenda.

Councillors also discussed a few detailed points of order, such as how motions are supposed to be made. 

Knudson stated Big Valley council tends to discuss an issue first, then pass first reading, whereas Mindus noted technically it’s supposed to be the other way around.

Several of the changes Knudson proposed at previous meetings were present in the bylaw under the heading “Agenda delivery.”

The first stated, “The CAO will distribute the council agenda, together with copies of all pertinent correspondence, statements and reports to each member of council by electronic transmission or in person at least six days prior to each regular meeting.

“Another stated, “The CAO, or designate, will distribute the council agenda cover pages publicly, on the administration office door, the post office bulletin board (in the Village of Big Valley) on Facebook and on the Village of Big Valley website within three days of the council meeting.

The last stated, “The CAO, or designate, will distribute complete copies of the agenda to persons requesting an agenda package via email, or in print, as soon as time permits and reasonably before the council meeting.”

Councillors passed a resolution that the CAO make those changes to the proposed procedural bylaw and bring it back to a future council meeting.

 

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.