Beginning in February, Council and Committee meeting materials will be available to Council and the public a full week in advance of scheduled meeting dates.
A simple step but one with a big positive impact. Let me explain.
Currently, Council and the public receive meeting material on Thursday for meetings occurring in the immediate next week. This practice gives only 1 weekend to review the materials and at best, 1-2 working days to speak directly with staff and/or, if a member of the public, sign up as a delegation on a matter. This has been the practice FOREVER.
For 2013, packages will still be released on Thursdays but 10 days in advance of the scheduled meeting. This will now provide 2 full weekends and 5 working days to review the materials.
The lack of time between receiving meeting material and the meeting itself has been a concern for many terms of Council.
The concern is two-fold.
One it reflects the desire of members of Council to be as well prepared for meetings as possible. Given work and family commitments and staff schedules, there is often not enough time to follow up on questions in advance of a meeting.
The second relates to the limitations that the short time frame places on the participation of members of the public in their local government.
This is a wonderful expression of our commitment to advancing the principle of open government. There is more to come!