Residents will now have new ways to learn about legislated public notices being brought forward to City Council.
On Tuesday, Lethbridge City Council voted 6-2 in favour of Bylaw 6251 – Establish Alternate Methods of Public Notification and Advertisements. This was the second and third reading of the bylaw.
Under Section 606.1 of the Municipal Government Act, which was added in 2017, a municipality has the option to use advertising methods other than a local newspaper or print publication for legislated advertisements if Council sees it as expedient and efficient at reaching a significant portion of the population.
"This is an opportunity to evolve how we inform our residents about public notices by using taxpayer dollars effectively and creating a multi-channel approach to our communication about public notices," said Councillor Jeffrey Coffman. "We are meeting residents where they are at in today's age instead of only using channels identified in an old version of the Municipal Government Act that requires residents to seek information from us."
These changes will not eliminate any current channels used for public notices – rather, more transparency will be seen by spreading out the budget to different channels and reaching people where they are getting their information. The City will still be advertising in print media. This diversification and flexibility around communications about legislated public notices will involve a mix of print and digital formats.
Initially this bylaw was presented, at a public hearing on November 16, 2020, as a response to Council's directed budget reduction exercise.
"Although part of this bylaw was framed around cost savings, the greater intention is to increase flexibility in how we notify the community about public notices," says Ryan Westerson, Legislative Services Manager. "The bylaw will improve how we reach the community, allowing us to find efficiencies and cost savings while providing better metrics to evaluate the reach and effectiveness of the communications."
"We are also working toward improving accessibility by simplifying the language and creating a consistent look and feel that will be recognizable as a public notice from the City," adds Westerson.
The City's website will be the primary resource for delivering the complete information about each public hearing, while other forms of advertising would be used to reach and inform the public. For those who don't have access to the website, Lethbridge 311 will be available to provide further information and residents can still visit City Hall for in-person inquiries.
All electronic advertisements subject to this bylaw will be posted on the City's website at lethbridge.ca/notices.
The full bylaw can be viewed here: https://agendas.lethbridge.ca/AgendaOnline/Documents/ViewDocument/BYLAW%206251%20-%20AS%20AMENDED%20FROM%20NOVEMBER%2016%2C%202020.pdf?meetingId=2899&documentType=Agenda&itemId=73848&publishId=59999&isSection=false