West Kelowna council is making changes to its meeting schedule as part of an effort to attract more public engagement.
Currently, council meets every second (1:30 p.m.) and fourth Tuesday (6:00 p.m.). At its Nov. 22 meeting council voted to move the second Tuesday meeting to 3:30 p.m., and keep the fourth Tuesday meeting at 6 p.m.
Coun. Stephen Johnston said he was unsure if any changes would encourage more people to attend meetings.
“I hope we can make changes that will allow the opportunity for people to engage,” he said.
Coun. Garrett Millsap asked his colleagues to consider holding public hearings as part of the afternoon meetings. Generally, public hearings are held in conjunction with evening council meetings.
“To see if we could garner some more attention to the earlier meeting,” added Millsap. “It might shorten those 6 p.m. meetings for other members of the community.”
Chief Administrative Officer, Paul Gipps, cautioned council about holding public hearings during an afternoon meeting.
“One of the things I would hate to have council wear is their decision to run a public hearing of any consequence and then saying we (public) didn’t have the opportunity to participate properly.”
Gipps added that most municipalities hold public hearings in the evening.
“We only run what we think will be a very non-consequential one in the afternoons. Where we likely haven’t heard anything and we don’t expect anything.”
The only councillor to vote against the change was Carol Zanon, who pointed out that a 3:30 p.m. meeting will interfere with many people’s schedules.
“Because it goes right over the dinner hour,” she said. “A lot of people won’t be able to attend.”
Changes to council’s meeting bylaw will need to be advertised so that the public can make comments.
Council will review the changes in November 2023.