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Better Council Meetings

Fortunately, I haven’t had to attend too many council meetings in my life, however, in my new role, I am representing developers and clients more and more frequently in the capacity of a Civil and Urban Engineering Designer. My biggest complaint on how council meetings are run would be how difficult it is for the general public to follow on with the proceedings and to understand what the motions being passed or otherwise might actually be about. Apparently I’m not the only one… 

The vague and lackadaisical way that public meetings are often conducted can frustrate anyone who watches local government at work. When commissions or councils vote, citizens can be left in the dark as to what the vote was about and why board members voted the way they did.

A primer on public meetings

This article gives some tips to councils such as lose the jargon, explain to the public what’s going on, and why members are voting on an issue the way they are. Really, it’s all nicely summed up in the final two paragraphs…

Also, elected officials should keep in mind that the process by which a decision is reached can be as important as the decision itself. All the rules of order in the world won’t matter if elected officials do not value openness and accountability in conducting the public’s business.

Local governmental bodies should strive for good work habits and an open decision-making process. That is the least that the public should be expect from its leaders.

Send a copy of the article to your local council members if they are in need of a primer.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.