Monday's Lethbridge City Council meeting was the final meeting of 2020, as well as the final one to take place on a Monday.
The new Standing Policy Committee (SPC) Governance Model will take effect January 1, 2021.
One of the notable changes: Lethbridge City Council meetings will be on Tuesdays starting January 12, 2021 (see calendar here: https://www.lethbridge.ca/City-Government/Agenda-Minutes/Documents/Council%20Calendar.pdf). The resolution passed unanimously at City Council's November 2 Organizational Council Meeting.
Agendas will be published one week in advance of the meetings, thus allowing extra time for the public to review them and consider whether to provide written submissions.
"This strategic and visionary model is good governance and will provide more transparency and more public participation to Lethbridge City Council meetings," says Councillor Belinda Crowson, who was also Chair of the now former Open and Effective Government Committee.
The SPC governance model will:
- Define and support specific roles and standard processes for decision making
- Direct subject area specific questions to the appropriate level, allowing for Councillors to develop expertise in those areas, and clarifies where public debate will occur
- Include the ability of committees to specialize in subject areas, as departments would roll up to a specific committee for policy discussions
Ending Council appointments on most Boards, Committees and Commissions (BCCs) will allow for:
- Council to remain at the strategic, governance level rather than their current, more operational level interaction with the BCCs
- The BCCs were developed as a forum for public engagement and should be used as such – adding Council members has clouded their role and can make it difficult for both community members and Councillors to voice their opinions
Among the other changes and updates:
- SPC meetings will be added to the Council Meeting Calendar for public awareness
- SPC agendas will be publicly available one week in advance at https://agendas.lethbridge.ca/AgendaOnline/, as well as sent to all of Council so that non-member Councillors are aware and can choose to participate
- SPC minutes will be accessible shortly after the meeting
- SPC meetings will be streamed and recorded
- Instead of having Council deal with every issue in detail at Council meetings. SPCs will be more efficient and reduce the time spent in Council meetings. The Consent Agenda will be used for items coming from Committee whether for information or decisions
- SPCs will improve reports prior to presenting to Council by amending or referring back to Administration or a BCC; When City Council meets, they consider these recommendations from the Standing Policy Committees to help with their decision-making
- Items currently received for information at SPC would have actionable recommendations
- SPCs are more focused on select topics, allowing for Councillors to develop expertise in those areas
The SPC model provides extensive public participation opportunities. The public can speak for five minutes to a committee about an agenda item and Councillors may ask them questions. Any public wanting to participate in an SPC is asked to contact the City Clerk at email@example.com. The public may also submit comments in writing through an online form that will be available in mid/late January. Resident input at the appropriate SPC would be a key part of the role of these committees.