A series of amendments to how council operates were approved late last month, including that electronic email meetings will no longer be allowed.
Ponoka town council passed all three readings of the bylaw containing revisions to council’s procedures bylaw at its meeting Sept. 24. It was a move made necessary after the town had to ‘give up’ on an agreement earlier this year to sell the Kinsmen Community Centre as the vote it held was not compliant with the new Municipal Government Act (MGA).
Along with the major change of removing the section, which stated that electronic special council meetings could be held via email — which contravened the MGA section 199 and started the process of checking for compliance — there were only minor amendments among the rest of the bylaw.
Those include officially referring to public participation at meetings as the ‘public forum’, separating delegations from presentations within the meetings agenda, providing discretion to the mayor or designate on whether to extend the public forum time beyond 15 mins and setting the time limit for meetings at four hours — up from three — with the ability to extend that to five if needed.
Coun. Carla Prediger wondered about the overall time limits for public speakers and it was explained that the overall time for delegations and presentations should not exceed 30 minutes unless approved by a majority of council. Public forum time is set at three minutes per speaker to a maximum of 15 minutes.
Also within the public forum, Coun. Teri Underhill noted a recent issue of the same subject coming up meeting after meeting. The bylaw was amended by stating no person shall speak on the same subject within a six month time frame, unless authorized by the CAO, mayor or designate due to new and compelling information coming to light.
Two additions were made to the bylaw: that motions do not need a seconder, and that a motion to table an issue can only be made when there is a motion being debated on the floor.