StettlerLocal.com January 16, 2021
The Town of Stettler Council will resume regular meetings on January 19. CAO Greg Switenky commented on why the Town is not using video conferencing for meetings or offering live streaming of the meetings.
On why the town council is still meeting in chambers:
“Council feels a lot more value meeting in person as long as they follow the Alberta Health guidelines. This does require more planning but in the old days, you could have walk ups. The Town observes what Clearview Public School Division does for their meetings via Zoom, but Council has not had an appetite for this method. We still feel they can follow all the guidelines and conduct meetings in person and have not made the decision yet for video conference meetings.” - CAO Greg Switenky
The topic has been discussed numerous times since last March, and it is still something they feel suitable under their circumstances. For a member of the public to attend a Council meeting, there is limited seating and a press area available for the media.
On why the town does not offer live streaming of their meetings:
“It’s very seldom the public attends unless there’s been a public hearing or delegation coming with some type of ask or something. With COVID, now is not the time for these groups to get together to come to council.” - CAO Greg Switenky
Generally, the chairs set-up for the public are empty, and there are one to three members of the press in attendance. There is flexibility in the gallery and, typically, if there were more attendees, the meeting could be moved to a different location to accommodate the increase. The goal is to make the Council meetings relaxed, inclusive and comfortable.
According to Switenky, it depends on what type of access there is for technology resources and in some cases that means the level of expertise among your staff to get it done. The last thing they want to do is spend more money when it isn’t available in the budget. While Town employees use Zoom or Teams for internal meetings, they do not use it not for Council meetings.
“AUMA’s 2021 annual convention was held virtually this year and the Town Council with senior staff participated in the convention in the Council Chambers according to required guidelines. In person networking is far preferable but it was better to attend the virtual convention than not at all.“ - CAO Greg Switenky
Switenky noted that Council is available to discuss the meeting agenda business items the night prior to the meeting if something needs to be addressed. Administration vets reports to Council so they are public friendly reads. Switenky stated the public could contact them for clarification.
Town of Stettler Council meetings are held at 6:30pm on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of every month at the Town Office. There is a public forum at every Council meeting. Committee of the Whole is held every second Tuesday of the month at 4:30pm.
For more information on Town of Stettler Council, visit https://www.stettler.net/the-town/council
Jody Craig, Reporter