Kelowna city council has made several changes to its meeting policy

Early start to public hearing

An earlier start time for Tuesday evening public hearings is one of several changes Kelowna city council has made to its council procedures bylaw.

The possibility of a public question period following some Monday meetings could also be added in the coming months.

After hearing from the public during the October election campaign, council asked staff to bring forward a number of changes to procedures pertaining to meetings, specifically public hearings.

Public hearings will now begin at 4 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., with the option of starting at 3 p.m. depending on the agenda.

Mayor Tom Dyas says the earlier start time would mean meetings wouldn't, for the most part, go late into the evening.

"A lot of times when it got to a point where it was 9, 10 and 11 o'clock people were getting tired," said Dyas.

"It's to bring it to a time frame where we start at 4 and run them through to 8, and to move beyond that time we would need council approval will keep the meetings moving more efficiently, and my role will be to make sure council moves as efficiently as possible."

A majority of council would have to agree for a meeting to go past 8 p.m., two-thirds past 8:30 and unanimous support beyond 9 p.m.

The deadline for correspondence pertaining to a public hearing would be moved up to 4 p.m. Monday as opposed to the current Tuesday morning deadline.

A change pertaining to Monday meetings will now see the agenda published on Wednesday as opposed to Thursday.

Changes will be made once council gives the bylaw final reading.

Another possible change not part of the package was the addition of a public period at the conclusion of some Monday afternoon meetings.

Deputy city clerk Laura Bentley said that item will be brought forward in a separate staff report at a later date.

While details would still need to be ironed out, Dyas says the public could be granted 15 or 20 minutes after one or two meetings a month to bring up topics important to them.

"You are able to speak for up to three minutes and bring us your concerns

"There will be a process where you will have to register with the clerks office so we are not getting a duplication of the same communication.

"We are wanting it to be as positive as possible, we are wanting the information to be beneficial to us so maybe people come up with ideas that can help us to initiate positive change throughout the community."

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