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Changes to municipal meetings proposed

By Randy Thoms May 25, 2023 | 11:34 PM

File photo Image: Randy Thoms

Potential changes to the number of meetings municipal elected officials in Fort Frances attend.

A consultant’s report makes fourteen recommendations after conducting a review of municipal procedures over the last several months.

One is to move to fewer meetings for the elected members of council and consolidate or dissolve some of the advisory and executive committees.

Mayor Andrew Hallikas says times have changed, and so should council.

“Our present form of governance has been in effect since the ’90s, and now we’re in 2023. So times have changed. And in order to govern effectively, I think that we need to change with the times,” says Hallikas.

The consultants found the current multitude of meetings to be taxing on administration as well.

Staff spend an average of four hours per meeting preparing the agenda, taking minutes, and handling correspondence.

They also report a duplication in objectives for some of the advisory committees, and just five of eleven have formal terms of reference.

Councillor John McTaggart still feels there is value in keeping some of the committees in place.

“One thing that I hope that administration will consider is the use of advisory committees because I really believe that it’s a good way to engage our citizens in areas that those citizens have a passion for,” says McTaggart.

Councillor Mandi Olson supports the move to hold separate committee of the whole and council meetings. She sees it helping address the public’s perception of transparency and communication.

“And the Committee of the whole, I think, could help fill that gap. When there is time between the committee of the whole meeting and the council meeting itself, I think we have an opportunity to engage the community more, to get them involved, and to give more voice at the table. I also think that it helps inform our decision-making better,” says Olson.

The consultants do warn that with fewer meetings, they could be longer than usual. Some communities following a similar schedule report their meetings lasting three to four hours.

Administration is now reviewing the report and expected to come back with its recommendations and a timetable for implementation.



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