Under the newly modernized Municipal Government Act (MGA), the County of Wetaskiwin is considering releasing to the public a more detailed agenda package online prior to its Tuesday meetings.
Presently, agendas published on the county’s website contains only a list of items with no further detailed information or the recommendations administration gives council.
First reading, second reading, and the motion to take the matter to third and final reading were all opposed by councillors Ken Adair and Dale Woitt.
In order to vote on the third and final reading during council’s Feb. 6 meeting the motion to take it to third and final would have needed to be a unanimous decision. The matter will be brought back to council at a future meeting. To pass the final reading a majority vote will be required, but it will not need to be unanimous.
Coun. Lyle Seely says before he was elected to council, he was, as a ratepayer, frustrated with the lack of information available online in the county’s agendas. “My personal opinion would be to release everything but the (administrative) recommendation.”
However, assistant CAO Rod Hawken says the program used by the county does not allow for that option, it is either all the information or none.
Hawken added the county has put in a request with the company about making the idea Seely is also in favor of an option. But he says there is no certainty as to when or if the county can expect to see results, as it is the only user requesting the change.
Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers says there is a danger in releasing administrative recommendations to the public prior to a meeting, as some people may not fully understand what they are and assume it is the definitive action council is taking without attending a meeting to see the official resolution of a matter.
Rooyakkers and Seely both mentioned there is a perception councils are pawns of administrative bodies, via the recommendations, and Rooyakkers added in the past councils have been discouraged from releasing recommendations based on that perception. “I don’t think I could support having everything public.”
Rooyakkers, along with councillors Seely, Josh Bishop, and Bill Krahn, voted in favor of releasing agenda packages online, complete with administrative recommendations.
Coun. Terry Van de Kraats was not present at the meeting to vote.