The issue of council members’ attendance at council meetings is again an issue at City Hall.
At Monday’s meeting, Councillor Ron Crush repeated his earlier call for statistics showing councillors’ meeting attendance records to be publicized on the City’s website.
He called on the City to compile the attendance records for the previous three years and made a motion to put information on their attendance on the City’s website.
Up to now, the City has kept records of councillors’ meeting attendance through the reports of the minutes from council meetings, which normally list who attended.
But Crush wanted the City to go even further and put up a bar graph on the website comparing council meetings attended by councillors.
He also expressed his support for suggestions made by other councillors to also post attendance from municipal services and parks and recreation meetings as well.
“It’s very important to demonstrate to the public that we’re out there being involved in the activities, agencies, organizations in our community that we’ve been appointed to,” said Crush.
But Crush’s motion lost steam quickly after he expressed his desire to post council attendance records going back throughout the entire term since the last election in 2009.
At that point Councillor Trent Houk said he couldn’t support the motion, saying “to me, it looks like an election-year tactic.”
Houk said he could support it if it were implemented in time for the next term, but that the motion to go back three years “makes no sense.”
“I want to know what the true motive of it is,” said Houk
Questions were also raised about whether the reporting of councillors attendance might end up being misunderstood by the public as there were sometimes legitimate reasons for councillors to be away from meetings. Councillor Don Buglas suggested that information be taken into account in reporting the attendance.
In the end, Buglas and Councillor Grace Lang voted in favour of Crush’s motion, but Councillor Ray Fox and Mayor Ian Hamilton joined Houk in voting against.
With the final 3-3 vote, that was enough to defeat Crush’s motion. Councillor Brad Pattinson was not in attendance.
Speaking reporters after the meeting, Hamilton made clear he would have been OK with the idea of publicizing the attendance records going forward, but did see problems going backwards.
“I did foresee some difficulties going back two years time and recreating that, and then trying to take into account considered ‘excused absences’ and those sorts of things,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton did leave the door open to reporting council attendances in the future, saying the idea was “something to take into the future to consider how we might report that.”