An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE IDEA OF HOLDING regular Kamloops City council meetings in the evening instead of afternoon was worth looking at but a staff report on the issue has given council several reasons to stick with the status quo.
A motion by Coun. Dale Bass in March asked staff to look at the implications of evening meetings in order to make them more accessible to the public. The response will be put in front of council at a committee of the whole meeting Tuesday morning and it offers nothing in the way of encouragement for the idea.
Input from 11 other municipal councils suggests no significant advantage to evening public meetings over afternoon meetings, and several disadvantages.
One of them is staffing costs. Whether staff are paid overtime or allowed days off in lieu for attending night council meetings, additional costs are “likely unavoidable,” says the report.
It also says the other cities haven’t experienced public concerns about accessibility but there were concerns about the lateness of public hearings that follow evening regular council meetings.
Eight of the 11 hold their meetings in the evening instead of day. Despite that, according to the local staff report, “almost all respondents stated that public attendance at their meetings is minimal/ low and very topic dependent.”
All this boils down to whether moving the meetings would be worth getting a few extra members of the public showing up once in awhile. On the face of it, evening meetings would seem to be more convenient for them but afternoon meetings are probably better for some.
Council, of course, could opt for a short-term pilot project to test it out but, overall, the question of night versus day seems to have been answered.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.