Advertisement

Push for daytime meetings at London City Hall hits snag at committee level

At the midday meeting, members voted 3-2 to endorse a calendar similar to what's already in place.
At the midday meeting, members voted 3-2 to endorse a calendar similar to what's already in place. Matthew Trevithick / 980 CFPL File

Councillors are inching closer to a final decision on the 2019 calendar and despite Tuesday’s vote at the corporate services committee, a push for morning council meetings is still clinging to life.

READ MORE: City committee to vote on whether to change meeting times at London City Hall

At the midday meeting, members voted 3-2 to endorse a calendar similar to what’s already in place. Coun. Jesse Helmer and Coun. Michael Van Holst, who first brought forward the idea in the spring, were the two to vote in favour of a so-called daytime calendar.

“Council meetings, for one thing, we always have the dinner break. And I think that is a real impact,” said Helmer.

“I would rather have started the meeting at 9:30 a.m. in the morning, and work our way through and then maybe we finish by lunch, rather than having a dinner break that constantly is interrupting the meeting.”

Story continues below advertisement

Helmer also noted that numerous other municipalities go by a daytime schedule and listed Calgary, Montreal, Mississauga, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Brampton, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Halifax as municipalities that schedule full council meetings to start sometime between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.

READ MORE: Doug Ford says Toronto council decision is popular, says he’s getting ‘endless calls’ about Ottawa

Van Holst added that the daytime calendar schedule would also push public participation meetings to 6:30 p.m., which would be more convenient for many Londoners.

“All our meetings are daytime, for all intents and purposes, for people who work 9-5 or until 6 p.m.”

Coun. Jared Zaifman referenced previous public outreach included in the staff report which suggests the public is divided on the issue and also noted concerns about making changes during an election campaign.

“Frankly, I don’t know if we’re ever going to get to a situation where we’re going to find balance that works well for everybody,” he explained.

“We are right in the middle of an election with about a month and a bit to go where people have, I don’t know with certainty… but [people] would be running based off this type of calendar and I think if any substantive changes are going to be made, I think it’s very reasonable for that to be left to the next council to decide that.”
Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Premier Doug Ford moves to invoke notwithstanding clause

Click to play video 'Doug Ford moves to invoke notwithstanding clause regarding Toronto council cuts' Doug Ford moves to invoke notwithstanding clause regarding Toronto council cuts
Doug Ford moves to invoke notwithstanding clause regarding Toronto council cuts

Deputy Mayor Paul Hubert voiced similar concerns about the timing, but from the perspective of voters rather than candidates.

“They’re all focused on the bazillion signs that are on street corners and on lawns, and discussions around issues. They’re not focused on this issue,” he stated.

“Quite frankly, I haven’t had a single email on this issue over the past several weeks.”

While the committee endorsed a calendar with meeting times similar to what’s already in place, full council makes the final decision.

If full council does not approve the calendar, it would be considered a “decided matter of council,” meaning it could not be voted on again and city staff would have to present a new calendar.

Story continues below advertisement