Maple Ridge council is experimenting with its meeting schedule and scrapping its all-day marathon Monday meetings and instead, scheduling all its meetings on Tuesdays evenings.
The new schedule is for a trial period starting in May and running until December, to see how it all works out, council decided April 11.
Politicians has been considering the change for several weeks, weighing the staff overtime costs that would result from staff working evening meetings, as well as the trade-offs of freeing up staff on Mondays instead of having them attend meetings.
An all-evening schedule could also make it easier for people to follow council, and encourage more people to run for office next election.
“I hope it opens doors for people. I think there’s a lot of people with 9 to 5 jobs that can’t take a Monday morning off,” said Coun. Tyler Shymkiw who led the change.
“I don’t think it’s good for democracy to limit it to people that … for the most part, either have their own businesses or are retired.”
Shymkiw said there are some staff overtime costs to be considered as a result of having staff attend evening meetings, but said freeing up staff on Monday could counterbalance that.
An earlier report said that it could cost another $33,000 in overtime for planning staff alone.
The new schedule will see council workshops begin at 6 p.m. every first and third Tuesday of each month. Workshops are supposed to be informal, shirtsleeve meetings where more informal discussions can take place.
Regular council meetings will take place the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month beginning at 7 p.m., with special meetings set for 6 p.m., if necessary.
The reorganization means the termination of the commitee of the whole meetings that used to take place Monday afternoons, where council also discussed issues, but didn’t vote on them.
“We’re eliminating committee of the whole,” Shymkiw said. “A lot of them didn’t feel it was great use of time. It’s primarly an information meeting.”
An earlier report to council showed that the webcast of council meetings is drawing a minimal audience.