Callander council is considering sweeping changes to how it runs its meetings.
The proposed changes are detailed in a staff report received by the mayor and council.
One change would see the council begin its meetings one hour earlier at 6 p.m.
Another proposed change involves the actual meeting format.
Elected officials currently meet as a committee of the whole every third Tuesday, which is followed by a regular council meeting on the fourth Tuesday.
The exceptions are the December meetings because of the proximity to Christmas and, as a result, both of these meetings are held one week earlier than usual.
Under the proposed changes, council would switch to two regular meetings a month with the committee of the whole meeting included as part of each of those regular council meetings.
This type of meeting concept isn't new since some neighbouring communities, such as the Municipality of West Nipissing and Village of Sundridge, hold combined regular council and committee of the whole meetings.
In its report to council, staff says the suggested format makes for more efficient meetings. Plus, it reduces the need for special meetings on time-sensitive issues since council will meet more often where votes on decisions need to be made.
Perhaps one of the more significant changes is how council will actually carry out its meetings.
When COVID-19 hit, it forced municipal councils to change how they hold their meetings and Callander was no exception.
It began to live-stream its meetings via YouTube and staff is recommending that this method continue even after the pandemic ends.
All this means is elected officials don't have to be in the council chambers during a meeting, but rather they can participate remotely.
They will still have the option of being in the council chambers if they choose.
The same applies to staff and delegations, who can either participate remotely or in person in the council chambers.
As for having a majority of council members present for a meeting so they can legally cast votes, that doesn't change.
Council still needs a quorum to vote on motions or resolutions.
It's how that quorum is achieved that's proposed being changed.
Under the proposed changes, a quorum can be achieved by combining the members who are in the chambers with those who are participating remotely.
Even if only one member is present at the council chambers, as long as enough members participate remotely to form a majority, then votes can be taken.
The proposed changes still need some work.
For example, it's not clear how or when new items will be added to an agenda.
Staff says this point needs more clarity.
More detail and clarification also is needed on when members of council should introduce a notice of motion, as well as when the council packages are made available electronically to elected officials and the public.
With council receiving the report, the work now falls back to staff.
As per council's direction, staff will now work on draft wording to amend the procedural bylaw.
That draft will come back to council in another staff report, at which point council is expected to vote on the proposed changes.
There's no indication when that vote may happen, but the municipality will post a public notice before the bylaw is amended.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget