Crowsnest council discusses amending regular meeting schedule

For several years, Crowsnest Pass council has held one regular meeting a month in the early afternoon to offer residents the opportunity to attend if work schedules prevented them from going to the evening meetings.

At the request of Coun. Vicki Kubik, council discussed dropping the meeting completely or changing the 1 p.m. meeting back to an evening time to better accommodate her work schedule and enable more of the public to attend outside regular business hours.

As an option, administration suggested dropping the scheduled three meetings a month down to two.

Council debated the issue during the 1 p.m. meeting on Aug. 23, which Coun. Kubik was unable to attend.

Making changes to a meeting that typically has low public attendance, said Mayor Blair Painter, made sense.

“I don’t think it’s serving the intent we thought it would,” he said, though adding he was concerned that moving from three to two meetings a month would pile on too many agenda items for a single meeting.

“How effective are you at making decisions like this when you’ve spent six or seven hours in a meeting?” asked Painter.

Coun. Dean Ward agreed.

“Remember, the end of our meetings are always in camera, so that’s usually issues that are really important, and there’s a lot of us sitting in this room that are getting tired by that point,” Ward said.

“Sometimes I’m concerned that we might make the wrong decision for that reason alone, especially if it’s a contentious issue.”

While keeping the three meetings and just switching the 1 p.m. time to 7 p.m. was an option, Coun. Lisa Sygutek said doing so would create an unfair expectation for administration.

“I’m not OK with changing any of it,” she said.

“We’re asking these guys and Patrick to come in now a third night, so he’s got to work all day and then come in at night. We do too, but we chose to do that. This is his job.”

The 1 p.m. meeting was also part of the expectations every council member accepted when they decided to run for office, Sygutek added.

“You guys have not worked around my work schedule for the last five years. This is the requirement when I run for council,” she said.

In the end, council decided to leave the meeting schedule as is, though members did acknowledge that, with three meetings a month, sometimes there are meetings with too few agenda items.

To ensure meeting lengths are not too short, council passed a motion for administration to draft a bylaw giving the agenda committee — made up of the mayor, deputy mayor and CAO — the ability to cancel meetings with insufficient topics of discussion.

The next regular council meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 4, 7 p.m. in council chambers.

Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze