Wednesday, January 14, 2015

City Council member outlines concerns over brevity of council minutes

Monday night's council session marked the first regular session since December 1st, and as with any six week break from the routine,  there was a bit of catching up to do when it came to the adoption of past minutes from the last month of regular and special sessions of Council.

With the first item of the night finding Council looking to adopt  a faster pace to the approach of the minutes of past sessions, by lumping the entire collection of past reviews into one motion for easy adoption.

A  process that provided an item of note for Councillor Joy Thorkelson, who while out of town  for the session, still participated by Internet phone, making the larger issue of the recording of minutes her first item of concern on the night.

Citing what she described as a number of inaccuracies from the minutes of the past sessions and at times referring to those  minutes  as "a mess", Councillor Thorkelson then suggested that the minutes in question should be returned to staff in order "to be fixed".

As well, she observed that Council should be adopting each set of minutes under consideration on an individual basis and not as one large volume.

Council took that advice under consideration and from that point on the process for the night, then adopted the past minutes of December on a one by one basis.

The issue of how much information should be provided in the official minutes will most likely make for a lively discussion topic during these early weeks of the new Council's work.

With Councillor Thorkelson  describing the current approach to Council reviews as rather sparse, she would seem to be looking for more detailed reviews of Council sessions and for a more comprehensive overview of such things as the recent Public hearing into the Lot 444 issue.

It would seem reasonable however to think that Council won't wish to over burden an already stretched city staff with recounting each and every comment made during the course of a two hour session.

So some accommodations to the flow of information might be required.

One option to help deliver more information may be to make better use of the City's Video Archive project, adding time lines to the minutes of each week with a link to the Video page for residents to consult the video record for further background on the issue under discussion.

It's a process that we've been using on our timeline reviews for a while now, reviewing the basic information from the session in question and then directing readers to the appropriate spot on the video presentation.

Beyond any concerns with the delivery of minutes, Council's process with their Council meetings would also appear to still be one of a learning curve for the mix of veteran and newcomers.

From a viewing of Monday's session,  there appear to be some procedural issues that Council is still working to understand, as they look to provide for a more seamless delivery of civic governance in public session.

Of particular note from Monday was their decision to adjourn to a Special Council of Session closed to the public,  the first indication of that move announced at the end of the Regular Council session of Monday night.

Something that in the past has provided for advance posted notice to the Agenda page of the City website and at least a short indication as to the theme of the closed session. (see here for a previous example)

While the weeks are still early in the new council mandate, brushing up on some of the mechanics of Council work might also be something to address along with their concerns over the published accounts of the meetings.

You can review Councillor Thorkelson's concerns from Monday and the larger discussion surrounding the nature of the proper recording of the events of Council sessions and Public Hearings from the City's Video Archive.

It opens up the evening's work and continues on until the eighteen minute mark.

There is more on the Monday night session available from the Council Timeline for January 12th.

For more background on City Council discussions and developments see our Council archive here.

No comments:

Post a Comment