2020-12-16

Region of Queens council passes policy to hold evening meetings

by KEVIN MCBAIN

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) is adjusting its council meeting schedule so more people can attend.

Beginning in January, every month the municipality will be holding one council meeting during the day and one at night.

At the December 8 meeting, council approved a new administrative policy respecting the regular meetings of council.

One meeting will be held on the second Tuesday of each month beginning at 9 a.m. The second one each month will be held on the fourth Tuesday beginning at 6 p.m.

"The regular system of daytime meetings makes it difficult for working people to attend, and it is also a barrier for those who may wish to run for council in the future if they are a working person," RQM"s mayor, Darlene Norman, explained to council members.

Councillor Maddie Charlton brought the policy change forward in a motion at the council's September 24 meeting. Following discussion on the motion, municipal staff were tasked with coming up with a new policy to bring forward to the December 8 meeting.

"It's about being inclusive," said Charlton. "With the hybrid option we are allowing equal opportunity." She noted that surrounding municipalities have evening meetings.

Councillor Ralph Gidney agreed with the change, suggesting it gives people options, "what we should be all about, giving people that choice."

Not all were in favour of the change, however. "I think this is rather confusing. In my own way, I would like to go one way or another," commented Councillor Jack Fancy. He added that driving at night during the winter months would be difficult for those not living in town, and that the previous council tried having meetings in the evening but had little success in attracting more residents.

Councillor David Brown concurred. "It's not going to allow people that work through the day to attend the meetings." And he suggested, with another election four years away, it was "a little premature" to make the change in the hope it might encourage new people to run for office.

All meetings will be held at the Municipal Administration Building at 249 White Point Road in Liverpool, with the exception of four alternate site meetings. In April, a meeting will be held in West Queens; in July, North Queens; in October, East Queens and in January 2022, South Queens.

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