Improving council communication with residents

    Chestermere’s new city council has moved ahead with changes to fulfill their commitment to improve communication and transparency at City Hall.
    “This council is completely committed to being open and transparent and engaging the community,” said Mayor Marshall Chalmers.
    To that end, council approved several motions at the Nov. 20 meeting that they feel will improve the communication and work to rebuild the sometimes-strained relationship with the community.
    “Council feels we need to take a leadership role in bringing the community together and identifying what their thoughts are on a positive path forward,” he said.
    With both the recent controversies surrounding Chestermere Utilities Inc. (CUI) and the election Chalmers said that it is time for the community to come together, heal, work towards a common goal for the city.
    One of the changes council made to improve communication is a modification of the city council meeting recording policy.
    The recordings of council meetings will be kept for 90 days from when the meeting minutes are approved and be available to residents at no cost for that period of time.
    “You might not think that’s a big deal but it’s the start of this new council making sure that we are being open and transparent,” he said.
    Chalmers said that this is important because the meeting minutes only reflect whether a motion passed and not the debate that surrounded the decision.
    The long-term goal to make the council meetings more accessible is to begin live streaming them so that residents who are unable to attend in person will still be able to watch the council debate.
    The eventual live streaming of meetings is just one strategy to improve the flow of information from council.
    Council has also approved a new Council Communication and Engagement Plan.
    “We heard loud and clear that the community is absolutely interested in making sure that they are engaged and have the opportunity to have input into how this city is being run and developed,” said Chalmers.
    The new strategies include everything from a State of the city address annually in October to participation in community events, to town halls and monthly coffee with council gatherings.
    Chalmers believes that once implemented, nearly every resident in Chestermere will be reached by at least one of these strategies.
    Mayor Chalmers said that while he is committed to improving communication, he is most looking forward to attending community events.
    “It’s just about staying connected to the community,” he said.