Holding all 2020 council meetings one Monday a month, at 1 p.m., is a shift that works best for the village’s sitting leaders, says Warfield Mayor Diane Langman.
Timetable changes for the coming year were considered at both the Dec. 4 regular council meeting at 7 p.m., she said, and during the pre-council committee of the whole meeting held an hour earlier that day.
“There were discussions around the table about residents who work regular 9-to-5 jobs, those who work shift work, those who work in the evening, those who have families, and those who are retired,” Langman told the Trail Times.
“Council chose to change the day to Monday so that we align with other communities in the area, which makes scheduling meetings for other committees easier for council to attend,” she explained.
“The decision to change to daytime meetings was to help improve efficiency for our staff both with time and reducing overtime costs.”
Warfield council has convened on Wednesday evenings for several years, so starting at 1 p.m. and not to exceed past 4 p.m., is a big shift.
This re-shuffle had Warfield resident Shirley Galbraith opining, in a Letter to the Editor, that afternoon council meetings will impede interested candidates from throwing their hats into the political ring come the 2022 civic election.
Meeting schedules are covered under a procedural bylaw, which is reviewed annually, and Langman says those terms can be adjusted to accommodate need.
“If people wish to run and if elected, require the time to be changed to any other time to facilitate attendance, that is easily done,” she clarified.
“This is a decision made by council and the time change that works for this council may not work for another council. Each council functions differently and this is not a decision written in stone forevermore,” she pointed out.
“This is an opportunity for this council to try something new.”
As far as going from two monthly meetings to one, Langman says there have been times in the past that meetings have been cancelled due to lack of agenda items.
“We also now have committees in place who have meetings regularly scheduled, an example being our policy committee,” she continued.
“So meetings involving all of council have lessened, due to the committees’ deliberations and bringing recommendations forward to council.”
The panel of four councillors and mayor still have the same amount of work, however, Langman says they are just managing their time differently and in a more efficient manner.
“Staff is also regularly reporting to council,” she added. “Therefore less of our council time is spent discussing items within operations instead of policy.”
As well, village leaders still have the ability to call for special meetings as required or adjust the time of a meeting to accommodate public interest if requested.
“For example, during budget time council will need more meetings and will call special meetings as required,” Langman concluded.
Warfield’s first regular council meeting of 2020 will go Jan. 13 at 1 p.m.
In City of Trail governance, the regular council meeting schedule is set by the Council Procedure Bylaw and is not something elected officials review and decide when the yearly schedule is set.
This bylaw states that meetings will occur on the second and fourth Monday from January to June as well as September to November. It further stipulates that one meeting will occur on the third Monday of July, August, and December. The Governance and Operations Committee, wherein business such as contract awards and operational reports are dealt with, typically meets prior to each regular council meeting, though the start time is determined by the agenda volume.