Setting the stage for a streamlined council

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Leaving what they foresee as a streamlined process for whatever council comes out of the Oct. 24 election, the city’s elected officials set a timeline for inquiries. 

Coun. Lee Atkinson is seen during last week’s city council meeting, during which time he successfully put forth a motion to have council inquiries answered by administration within 30 days. 

Leaving what they foresee as a streamlined process for whatever council comes out of the Oct. 24 election, the city’s elected officials set a timeline for inquiries.

During their final city council meeting, a motion passed to have all city administration inquiries responded to within 30 days.

The motion came as a result of Coun. Lee Atkinson’s longstanding frustration over having inquiries to administration responded to in what he perceives to be an unreasonable timeframe.

“I’m also disappointed at the lack of usable information in some of the responses,” Atkinson said.

“It seems as though … some council inquiries, it appears as though there’s really no intention of answering them in any meaningful way.”

Some inquiries that warrant a simple one-sentence response have taken weeks or months, he said.

Inquiries to administration cover the entire breadth of city operations and provide information to aid in city council’s decision-making process, be it bylaw amendments, policies or day-to-day decision-making.

“I understand that administration has their priorities … but we also need to remember who we represent in this chamber,” Coun. Ted Zurakowski said.

“Those priorities have to be, frankly, in front of most anything else, because that’s why we’re here — to represent our neighbours.

It seems as though … some council inquiries, it appears as though there’s really no intention of answering them in any meaningful way. Coun. Lee Atkinson

Somewhat taken aback, city manager Robert Cotterill countered by suggesting that the city’s elected officials be more proactive in their quest for information.

“In all the municipalities I’ve worked in before the councillors actually let us know ahead of time what they were going to ask us,” he said.

“If we had more of that we could cut down on the amount of work.”

In the end, the city’s elected officials opted to have administration respond to inquiries within 30 days, with Coun. Martin Ring’s amendment that should administration be unable to provide a report in that timeframe that an explanation be provided.

In addition, an inquiries section should be added to the city’s executive committee meetings, which are held as preparatory meetings a week in advance of city council meetings, council agreed.

“We’re not using it for the purpose that it was meant, and that’s for making inquiries,” Coun. Greg Dionne explained.

Though the motion passed, it will be up to whatever council comes out of the Oct. 24 election to decide how the motion will be implemented with a new bylaw.  

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