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New Regina city council kicks off new term with renewed focus on social issues

Regina Ward 2 Councillor Bob Hawkins speaks to Global News on November 28. Justin Bukoski / Global News

More frequent meetings, as well as a new committee focused solely on addressing social issues, will be up for approval at the first Regina city council meeting of the new term this Wednesday.

“We have to have a committee to coordinate not only the city’s approach, but the approach that many of the social agencies and other levels of government are taking,” said Ward 2 Councillor Bob Hawkins.

It was Hawkins who came forward with a motion to create a new “Community Wellness Committee”, comprised of five councillors, in executive committee this past week.

“This is a committee that will co-ordinate a central point where people can bring ideas, and most importantly of all, this is a committee that is meant to produce some action on these issues.

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According to city documents, the new committee would be “authorized to consider and make recommendations to Council relating to all policy aspects in the areas of housing, poverty reduction, mental and physical wellness, addiction and ‘safe from harm’, discrimination, and other social determinants of health and crime.”

It’s part of a suite of council structural and scheduling changes that will be up for approval Wednesday.

Council will also consider doubling the frequency of both executive committee and city council meetings.

Instead of convening just once per month, the proposed changes would see the meetings occurs on alternating weeks.

“We found in the last couple of years that the work was overwhelming. It was impossible to get it done in one council meeting. This will enable us to get more order in our agenda and to consider items in more detail,” Hawkins said.

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Wednesday’s meeting will be attended by six new faces, including five new councillors and new mayor Sandra Masters.

“I’m excited to be with new councillors. I’m very excited to be with a new mayor. I think this will give real energy to city council and you’ll see lots of action coming from us,” Hawkins said.

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Speaking to Global Regina earlier this week Masters said that while the learning curve has been steep, both the new and returning councillors are ready to get to work.

“I think what citizens of Regina can expect is good, respectful discussion about some of the issues that are coming forward,” she said. “And I’m looking forward to speaking to delegations for the first time.”

Pushing back the deadline to submit a delegation, the method by which the public can have their say in council meetings, is also on Wednesday’s agenda.

Previously, the deadline to submit a written brief was 1 p.m. on the Thursday prior to the meeting.

The proposed change would see the deadline become noon on the Monday preceding the meeting.