Pitt Meadows city council has eliminated one monthly meeting, dropping from four per month to three.
“For me, the [staff] report was fairly clear – the whole Lower Mainland is operating on this same structure,” said Mayor Bill Dingwall.
Council will now hold two regular meetings per month, and will have one meeting of a new Governance and Priorities Committee. This committee will include every member of council and will offer an opportunity for more two-way dialogue with other council committees and other groups.
City staff audited the meeting schedules of 14 surrounding municipalities and found the two regular meetings per month is standard. Cities including Abbotsford, Burnaby, and Langley Township each have 21-22 regular meetings per year.
Coquitlam was the exception with 29 meetings. Maple Ridge, on average, has two regular council meetings per month, but schedules a council workshop almost every week, which involves all of council. Maple Ridge also has committee of the whole twice a month, totaling eight meetings a month.
The Pitt Meadows staff report noted that council scheduled 41 regular meetings in 2018, and cancelled nine due to a lack of agenda items. A total of 32 meetings were held.
Under the new process, there will be 22 scheduled council meetings and eight meetings of the Governance and Priorities Committee, for a total of 30 council meetings.
Dingwall noted this change will allow city hall staff to focus more on their work, rather than always preparing for the next meeting of council.
“Planning for the anticipated number of meetings that we need in order to move business forward instead of canceling meetings that are unnecessary helps staff to be more efficient with their time, and planning of their workload,” said Kate Barchard, manager of administrative services, who presented the staff report.
“Last year’s meeting number suggests that council business can be accomplished in three meetings per month.”
Coun. Tracy Miyashita noted most larger cities are meeting 20-21 times per year, while Pitt Meadows is scheduling 41 meetings, and is smaller by population than most of its neighbours.
She noted council has been criticized for bringing back electronic participation in meetings, and “even for missing meetings on occasion.
“When you compare what we are doing to other communities, we are working really hard here,” Miyashita added.
Pitt Meadows council changed its bylaws to allow electronic attendance by council members, with limitations, last month.
In months where there are five Tuesdays, such as April, one date will be set aside for possible joint meetings with the councils of surrounding cities, such as Maple Ridge. There are three of these potential meeting dates left in the current year.
The change was made on the recommendation of consultant George Cuff, who advised the city through a governance review which included a re-organization of city committees.
All three meetings will be open to the public.