Council working to speed up decision-making process

City of Chestermere
Photo by Jeremy Broadfield

Committee of the Whole meetings could be replaced with an additional Regular Council Meeting.

Chestermere City Council is considering removing Committee of the Whole meetings from the monthly docket. 

Committee of the Whole meetings are used for administration to present reports and presentations. However, no decisions can be made. 

“We’re looking at removing the Committee of the Whole and adding it as a Regular Council Meeting,” Legislative Advisor Jerry Gautreau said during the April 12 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The meetings would continue to have presentations and staff reports for information where councillors can ask questions and receive the report for information.

“The advantage of having an extra council meeting is that sometimes things move quickly, and council would like to make a decision,” Gautreau said. “You can make a decision in a council meeting with a resolution and a motion, you can’t do that in a Committee of the Whole meeting.”

Councillor Sandy Johal-Watt raised concerns about meeting length, budgeting the meeting time, and remaining efficient.

“My concern is that these meetings run usually five to six hours. How can that time be budgeted during regular council meetings and making sure the council meetings aren’t long for us council members who have families and want to maintain an efficient timeline,” Johal-Watt said.

Gautreau explained the new meeting format wouldn’t be any different than a Committee of the Whole meeting, except councillors could give direction to administration, and make decisions.

“A concern is making sure the council meetings remain balanced and don’t run until 10 at night, because we have such a big chunk,” Johal-Watt said.

There would still be three council meetings a month, and ideally, presentations or staff reports that come forward would have a time limit on discussions afterwards.

“The advantages is it allows us to make some decisions as required that council can vote on, it would be similar with our council meetings with staff reports for information,” Gautreau said.

“We might get time savings out of this. At a Committee of the Whole something gets presented and it has to come back to council meeting the week after and having almost the same presentation again,” Councillor Stephen Hanley said. “That would allow us to move quicker.”

Removing the Committee of the Whole meeting presentation was accepted for information and will be brought back to a future council meeting, where a decision can be made. 

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