Medicine Hat Minute: Sunshine List, Environmental Roadmap, and a Very Merry Christmas
Medicine Hat Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Medicine Hat politics
This Week In Medicine Hat:
It’s Christmas Day - Merry Christmas to you all! Thank you for your support this year - we hope you have a wonderful holiday season filled with friends and family. We rarely ask for financial support in these newsletters, but if you’d like to contribute to help us keep producing these newsletters next year, you can click here to make a donation. We appreciate it, and we'll see you in 2024!
- Council is considering allocating additional funds for annual festivals in the coming year. The Community Vibrancy Committee, responsible for handling and awarding grant requests, is proposing a new schedule of one- and two-year awards for 2024. The City has traditionally limited recurring grants for festivals in the hope that groups would seek additional funding from the community or alternative sources, but Council members expressed support for separate consideration of festivals with broad appeal, such as Canada Day and Spectrum.
- There are a number of events happening in the city for New Year’s Eve, including some family-friendly activities at the Big Marble Go Centre. Floor hockey, an inflatable obstacle course, yard games, skating, and swimming are all free to partake in. Times vary between 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm, and some events require tickets.
Last Week In Medicine Hat:
Council debated publishing a “sunshine list” - an annually published list detailing salary and benefits by position, excluding employee names. A motion to publish such a list was proposed by Councillor Andy McGrogan with the aims of enhancing transparency, attracting a qualified workforce, and addressing calls for more openness from Hatters. While Council members expressed support for the concept, concerns were raised about potential privacy issues and the possibility of the information being used negatively. The proposal aligns with practices in other Alberta cities and the Province, which discloses compensation for employees earning $125,888 or more annually. Ultimately, Council voted to approve further study of the idea, with a report on potential issues due at the end of March. So, no transparency... at least for now.
- Council voted to move forward with a final draft of an environmental roadmap, outlining key focus areas for municipal operations, with targets, potential costs, and specific projects to be determined in the spring. The roadmap calls for the reduction of the City's carbon footprint and sets targets for the City’s water and energy use in operations. The final report, including specific projects and potential costs, is scheduled for completion by the end of April following feedback from stakeholders and the general public. Maybe next the City could try an economic roadmap, where they figure out ways to reduce the City's wasteful spending?
- Council has changed procedural rules to allow the Agenda Review Committee to determine the start time of closed meetings based on the length of the agenda, rather than having a fixed start time. Previously, closed meetings began at 3:45 pm on Mondays, with a public meeting beginning at 6:30 pm, regardless of the expected duration of the meeting. The change aims to address concerns (including from us here at Common Sense Medicine Hat) that the fixed start times often resulted in brief closed sessions concluding hours before the regular Council meeting start time, or additional issues being debated in closed sessions that didn't need to be. Councillor Shila Sharps, who originally brought the Notice of Motion to review closed meetings, expressed disappointment that Council did not entirely remove planned closed meetings. Sharps noted that the fixed schedule might create opportunities for unnecessary items to be added to a closed agenda and said she refuses to attend closed meetings that she believes should be open.
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