New meeting structure saving Saanich staff time

The decision to separate regular council meetings from committee-of-the-whole meetings has shown some early but inconclusive results in reducing the length of meetings.

“We will need to see a full year of implementation before we fully can see the outcomes of this change,” said Paul Thorkelsson, chief administrative officer (CAO). “However, in general, it appears the change has reduced the number of long meetings. As noted, the data on that is really only useful after a full year cycle as the workload for [council] varies through the year. As CAO, I have certainly appreciated less 14 hour days back to back of late.”

Thorkelsson made these comments after Monday’s committee-of-the-whole meeting. It lasted 47 minutes. The first regular council meeting of 2018 lasted two hours and 28 minutes.

Council approved the alternation between regular council meetings and committee-of-the-whole meetings on Sept. 19. The change came into effect on Oct. 2.

Council’s decision to separate meetings came after a report from Ken Watson, director of legislative services, in which he warned against letting meetings go past 11 p.m. Since May 2016, 30 per cent of all meetings that started at 7 p.m. adjourned after the stipulated adjournment time of 11 p.m, according to the report. The average meeting adjourned at 10:15 p.m., the latest at 1:37 a.m.

Thorkelsson said very long meetings can have an impact on staff, who are required to attend council. “Generally, we balance the attendance of [department] representatives such that individuals are not required for back to back long meetings, though that does occasionally occur,” he said.

For example, directors, who attend a late night council meeting will often have other representatives at a public hearing scheduled for the next night. This said, staff, who attend council or public hearing meetings are required to attend work the next day, unless it has been booked off as leave, said Thorkelsson.

As for the direct financial costs of long council meetings, they vary. “The cost in terms of staff time and [overtime] is not fixed for a particular regular meeting,” said Thorkelsson. “Most of the [staff] that attend at [council] are senior managers who receive an annual exempt special allowance in lieu of overtime for attendance at meetings of this sort,” he said.

“Administrative unionized staff that attend may receive overtime pay for the meeting relating to the length of the particular meeting.”

Monday’s 47-minute-long meeting with its three agenda items also raises another question: could Saanich have delegated the items rather than have a full albeit short meeting?

“We are always looking for changes to processes that can make [council]’s work more effective and efficient,” said Thorkelsson. “At the present time there are no additional changes under consideration.”

This said, the governance review citizen advisory committee (GRCAC) has suggested Saanich consider some opportunities for additional delegation at the staff level for greater efficiency, said Thorkelsson.” Work is underway in that regard as outlined during [council]’s discussions of the recommendations from the GRCAC,” he said.

Any changes, however, to council’s status as the statutorily designated decision making authority would require a bylaw, said Thorkelsson.

 

Just Posted

Saanich pedestrian incidents reflect recent trends

76% of crashes involving pedestrians happen at intersections

Group pushing to preserve Saanich Hydro land as park

Neighbours petitioning to buy surplus land on Kings Road

Two people rescued after falling from lifeboat at Ogden Point

Crew members of the Explorer of the Seas cruise ship fell into the water Thursday night

View Royal Park sign taken down after glitch redirects to pornographic website

Resident looking to learn more about workout equipment discovered the problem code

Online blasting video helps ease Sooke residents concerns

Complaints of dust ongoing since 2017

BC Games’ Athletes Corner: What’s your favourite pump up song?

Check out what’s playing in the earbuds of BC Summer Games athletes before they compete

Five fun things to do this weekend

From a paint in to festivals, there are lots of fun events taking place this weekend

Crosswalk vandalism leaves black mark for Cowichan as B.C. Games begin

Rainbow crosswalk defaced just days after being painted

Saanich balances need for sewer with rural protection

A Saanich councillor says the public does not need to be concerned… Continue reading

Seal attacks kayakers off northern Vancouver Island

‘It has to be one chance in a million of this happening.’

BC toddler with ‘allergy’ to sun waiting for bone marrow transplant

Charlie Lock, 2, needs treatment for damage caused by rare disorder EPP

Photo gallery: BC Games Day 1

A brief look at action from the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

Anti-pipeline campers digging in as eviction deadline expires

The City of Burnaby had ordered the Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters out for violating bylaws

Trump was taped talking of paying Playboy model: AP source

Source says former personal lawyer Michael Cohen secretly recorded discussion prior to 2016 election

Most Read