Kamloops council has decided to stick with its meeting start times — 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.
During a committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, the idea for afternoon and/or evening start times was quashed.
Coun. Dale Bass had suggested a pilot project that would have seen 6 p.m. city council meetings on select days throughout the remainder of the year.
Councillors Bass, Arjun Singh, Kathy Sinclair and Denis Walsh voted in favour, with Mayor Ken Christian and councillors Sadie Hunter, Mike O’Reilly, Dieter Dudy and Bill Sarai opposed. The motion was defeated.
“I think it’s a disservice to Kamloopsians,” Bass said following the decision. “The point I was trying to make, which councillors Walsh and Singh echoed, was to improve the accessibility for people to come. We all know they only come on issues, personal or what they hate, and we would be more accessible to them.”
Staff told council most municipalities surveyed do meet in the evenings, but noted the later start time did not make a significant impact when it came to public participation. Moving the meetings later would also come with slight additional costs, up to an extra $7,100 annually to pay CUPE staff overtime.
Three alternative meeting times were presented:
• 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., with public hearings from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the same day;
• 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., with public hearings on a different day;
• 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., with public hearings from 10 p.m. to midnight.
Bumping the meeting to 3 p.m. and keeping public hearings on the same day would cost an additional $4,600. Alternatively, it would cost $3,800 to move meetings to 3 p.m. and have public hearings on a different day. The third option — moving meetings to 6 p.m. and holding public hearings from 10 p.m. to midnight — is the costliest, at an extra $7,100.
Singh liked the idea of 6 p.m. meetings in order to allow more people who work 9-to-5 the ability to run for council.
Christian, however, said the role of a councillor in reality is full-time, due to myriad other commitments, from meetings to public engagement.
Should the city broadcast public hearings?
O’Reilly suggested during debate on council meeting times that the city look into broadcasting public hearings. Staff said it’s a possibility that could be explored.
No motion was brought forward. The city currently broadcasts its regular and committee of the whole meetings. It does not broadcast committee meetings, nor public hearings. The Thompson-Nicola Regional District films nothing, not records votes of its board members.