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Citizens' Assembly Updates

The Citizens' Assembly will report their recommendations to Lethbridge City Council in November 2016.

October 8, 2016

  • This was the third and final meeting of the Lethbridge Citizens' Assembly on Councillor Employment and Compensation.
  • The Assembly spent the day considering different employment and compensation scenarios and took turns presenting their best ideas and preferred options. Throughout this process, the Assembly returned to their values and their understanding of the concerns and priorities of others in the room as well as Lethbridge residents.
  • The members worked to find common ground and reach agreement on their recommendations.  Through a vigorous back-and-forth process the Assembly was able to iron out misunderstandings, ensuring each section of the report had the support of the Assembly.
  • In the afternoon, several members of City Council joined the Assembly to hear highlights from the draft report. After twenty-eight hours of cumulative learning and deliberation, Assembly members took turns at the podium reading out a draft account of their report. 
  • With this presentation complete, the Assembly voted to endorse the report and send it to City Council. The members of the Assembly were unanimous in their endorsement of their work.
  • At the close of the meeting members were reminded that they would receive a draft copy of their report to review and edit over a two week period. During this time, members were also invited to contribute a 'minority report' concerning any element of the process or the Assembly's recommendations which they wished to highlight.
  • The Assembly is expected to deliver its report to City Council and make public its recommendations in November.

October 6, 2016

  • More than 50 Lethbridge residents attended a public round-table meeting to learn about the work of the Lethbridge Citizens' Assembly and their deliberations on Councillor employment and compensation.
  • Moderator, Peter MacLeod, to provide an overview of what the Assembly had learned during its first two days. MacLeod described the roles and responsibilities of Councillors, their current compensation and the compensation levels in comparable jurisdictions in Alberta. 
  • Working in small groups hosted by members of the Assembly, the participants were asked to discuss and record their answers to four questions:
    • 1. What do you value in local representatives?

      2. How should Councillors spend their time?

      3. What are the possible benefits and drawbacks of electing part-time Councillors?

      4. What are the possible benefits and drawbacks of electing full-time Councillors?

  • Many tables reported a strong aversion to increasing either the pay or time afforded to Councillors to perform their duties. Additionally, a number of participants also expressed concern about the rate at which compensation has increased for Councillors over the past decade.
  •  A small minority of participants made a contrary case for increasing paid time believing that this could provide good value to the city. They urged other participants to recognize that many Councillors already work the equivalent of full-time hours which go uncompensated.
  • Many residents expressed appreciation to the volunteers who made up the Assembly and wished them well in their deliberations.
  • After two hours, the meeting adjourned with the Assembly to meet for its final session two days later on Saturday, October 8, when its members will reach agreement on a series of recommendations concerning council employment and compensation

September 10, 2016

  • Members were welcomed by Mayor Spearman and City Clerk Aleta Neufeld who each thanked the participants on their generosity in volunteering to serve the City and its residents
  • Dr. Jonathan Rose, a political scientist from Queen's University and member of the facilitation team, provided an introduction to the work of municipal government.
  • Ian McCormack, an expert in municipal administration in Alberta, presented a detailed explanation of the function of City Council and the role of elected Councillors. 
  • Five Councillors and the Mayor participated in an hour-long question and answer session with the Assembly members.
  • The members spent the final ninety minutes of their first day discussing what they had learned and developing a series of values that are intended to help guide them as they work to develop recommendations.

September 28, 2016

  • Members reported back on any reflections they had since the first meeting as well as any conversations with family, colleagues and friends. One member was pleased to report that they had spoken to more than 70 Lethbridge residents.
  • Shari-Anne Doolaege, an independent municipal governance expert, discussed the differences among the governance structures of similar municipalities in Alberta.
  • The Assembly defined values which they agreed should be the basis for elected representation in Lethbridge. These values include: Committed to the community, Open-minded, Inclusive, Good value, Accountable and Visionary.
  • Using examples of their 'typical weeks' provided by sitting Councillors, the Assembly members created diagrams illustrating how they would prefer Councillors spend their time. These included functions like: council meetings, community events, reading and preparation, professional development, committee meetings, city briefings, constituent issues and communications.

  • Chris Lastiwka, a compensation consultant with the City of Lethbridge explained how Councillors in Lethbridge and five other jurisdictions in Alberta are paid. Currently, Lethbridge Councillors earn approximately $44,000 per year — an amount that is calculated annually and because of the formula that is used, always remains close to the average paid to Councilors in similar jurisdictions.