By this time next week — when the first real city council meeting happens on Tuesday to talk finances — the four new city councillors should know what they’re doing. They hope.
So far this week, it’s been councillor school, run by the city clerk’s office. Jon Dziadyk, Aaron Paquette, Tim Cartmell, and Sarah Hamilton have been taking a crash course on ‘city council 101.’
During a break in the proceedings — or recess — a couple of councillors poked their heads out of the board room to check phone messages. That includes a couple of returning veterans.
Moe Banga had to cram everything in when he won the byelection in 2016, following the departure of Amarjeet Sohi a few months earlier.
“Now it’s a little more relaxed,” Banga said. “Since I understand a little bit from last time, now there’s room to ask questions. It’s a benefit definitely.”
What they learn is how to conduct themselves in all different situations they’ll find themselves in.
“For the tribunals, for the different municipal boards and what are the protocols, what’s the procedures, how to introduce motions, how to introduce inquiries and how to just behave in the meetings.”
Councillor Andrew Knack is back too.
“When I did this four years ago I was all over the place, right? You’re trying to get settled in. You’re trying to get staff in place and so your retention, while you hope it is strong, it’s never perfect so I thought it would be important to do this again,” he said.
“Far too often we talk about city staff in other departments getting refreshers. I think it’s just equally important for councillors to have refreshers to know what we are doing.”
Councillor-elect Paquette said it reminds him of his first days in college.
“It’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot of information all at once. Luckily these guys are pros. They know how to deliver it, so it’s coming along really well.”
In Paquette’s case, his predecessor Ed Gibbons has told him his call will always be answered, when he needs background or some quick history on an issue.
“It’s going to be interesting, marrying their perspectives to my own and making sure we can work together on good things both for Edmonton and our various wards and make sure they go together.”
Council gets sworn in at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. The inaugural council meeting happens right after at 3 p.m.
On Wednesday, all three main committee meetings happen, but that’s more background for the newbies. On Thursday, another ‘council 101’ session takes place so they can learn how to run a public hearing on land use.
The meetings start piling up next week with three council sessions, as the administration gives them the latest and sets out the broad overall agenda for the term.
By then, they hope to know what they’re doing.