Hamilton City Council continues to debate when they’ll meet with a majority of Councillors preferring 5pm over the traditional 7pm start time.
The governance sub-committee, consisting of five councillors, discussed a report showing 9 councillors in favour of continuing with 5pm meetings, 5 opposed, and 2 undecided.Among the reasons cited in favour they “found the debate and decorum to be much better with fresher minds and better decisions” and that meetings are “shorter” with the earlier start time.
The city’s six senior-most managers all favour 5pm.
Community divided between options
The report found the community evenly divided on the matter using a poll conducted on Teresa DeFalco’s The Hamiltonian that found 110 respondents in favour of 5pm and 112 in favour of 7pm. The report noted eight calls to clerks in favour of 7pm, including two citizens who “preferred the 7pm time so they could tweet their Councillor during the meeting”. Another four calls were received by 546-CITY, with three in favour of 7pm, one for 5pm.
There was no formal call for public opinion.
Ward 8 councillor Terry Whitehead said at a “number of community meetings” the majority of his constituents didn’t like the 5pm start time. “One person compared it to a hockey game that’s already been played.”
Ward 10 councillor Maria Pearson said she’s received no complaints.
Online viewership down
Staff told the sub-committee there has been a drop in online viewership of council meetings, but could not attribute that to any one factor. Staff noted that viewership may be dropping because of technology issues or poor quality – the city’s stream is only in a Silverlight player meaning it cannot be viewed by 64-bit systems, open-source operating systems, or any mobile platform.
I’ve noticed a drop in public gallery attendance at the 5pm meetings, but this could be due to a lack of hot button issues.
When should they meet?
Earlier meeting times are being floated including 4, 3, and 1pm. Cable 14 prefers 1 or 5pm, according to the staff report they can broadcast live at those times.
The sub-committee voted to refer the matter to the next general issues committee meeting which is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20.