Medicine Hat Minute: Weekly Feature, Closed Sessions, and a Formal Complaint Process

Medicine Hat Minute: Weekly Feature, Closed Sessions, and a Formal Complaint Process


Medicine Hat Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Medicine Hat politics


This Week In Medicine Hat:

  • There will be a meeting of the Public Services Committee today at 3:45 pm. On the agenda is an update from the Managing Director regarding the Curling Club and the Monarch Theatre. There will also be a review of the activities and events held at Towne Square in 2023.

  • Medicine Hat residents will have a single, monthly natural gas rate. Council approved a new rate-setting formula to begin January 1st. The City's utility department will set the monthly rate based on the cost of purchased gas plus a 3 cent-per-gigajoule handling charge, departing from the previous averaging formula tied to Alberta's major power distributors.

  • There will soon be a formal complaint process to raise concerns about members of Council. Councillor Shila Sharps received unanimous consent for a motion calling for the creation of the process, which aims to address legitimate complaints and filter out false claims. Sharp said she was absolutely fine with being held to a certain standard by the public, but noted that a rash of recent public complaints about Council would likely be considered frivolous or vexatious through a formal review process.


Last Week In Medicine Hat:

  • The City of Medicine Hat announced a new "Neat to Know" weekly feature, consolidating City-related news into a single, easily accessible summary in an attempt to combat misinformation. "Neat to Know" will offer a weekly digest covering key updates such as new projects, service disruptions, road closures, arts and culture events, educational features, and Council highlights. Each item will be summarized, with an option to access more detailed information via links. We can't help but think that this sounds familiar somehow... Unlike the City’s propaganda version, our weekly newsletter doesn't cost a single cent of your tax dollars. But, if you want to make a voluntary contribution to our efforts, you can do so here and we'll use the money to keep growing our independent, non-biased newsletter, and keep holding the City to account!

  • Council considered changes to its meeting schedules to potentially reduce the amount of time spent in closed sessions. Councillor Shila Sharps suggested that the current practice of scheduling a two-hour block of time for closed sessions before regular open meetings might be a waste of time when there isn’t anything to discuss. Council voted 7-2 in favour of having the Administration and Legislative Review Committee take a look at the issue. Of course, this proposal aims only to reduce the time that is wasted in closed discussions. It does nothing to increase actual transparency - only the perception of transparency. We’d prefer if the City limited the issues that are discussed away from public scrutiny to only the absolute essentials, and that would automatically reduce the time spent in secret anyway.

  • Council approved a $321,000 budget increase for the Medicine Hat Public Library, allocating $2.6 million in 2024. The library said funding was needed for a full-time onsite social worker, more security guards, and returning to pre-pandemic staffing levels. Councillor Andy McGrogan expressed concern about the City taking on social work aspects traditionally handled by the Province, but the Chief Librarian defended the request, noting libraries across the province have social workers on staff to help connect people to community services.




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