The City of Merritt is looking to amend its Procedural Bylaw to more clearly lay out how staff and Council meet.

Director of Corporate Services Greg Lowis presented a new Bylaw layout at the last regular Council meeting, outlining certain changes that could be implemented.

“The revised Bylaw takes into account modern best practices, updates to technology, and provides answers currently absent as to the conduct of debate, and process of motions at Council meetings,” reads an attachment to the meeting agenda from Lowis.

It was in March of 2020 that Council first requested amendments be made to the City’s Procedure Bylaw, with COVID-19 forcing meetings online. In September of 2020, it was requested that a complete review of the Bylaw be conducted.

Lowis said that the current Bylaw is “creaking under the weight of modern events.”

Cited in the attachment as “designed around the principles of transparency and comprehensibility”, some of the key features of the new Procedural Bylaw are:

  • The legally required designated Notice place moving from the glass cabinet beside the Chamber door inside City Hall to
  • A clear set of principles for debate outlining how and when motions should be made, which applies to both Council and committee meetings
  • Rules of debate are expanded, making clear in particular how referrals to other bodies, and deferrals to later meetings are handled
  • Reconsideration is expanded, to clarify how it may be done, in what way, and what would be the consequence of particular votes
  • An expanded Notice of Motion section, requiring written text and certainty and clarity about the proposal before members vote
  • The potential for online meetings and virtual participation fully integrated into the document, instead of being tacked onto the end
  • Revised procedures for online meetings and voting to help any such meetings run smoothly
  • References to additional policies to enable staff to provide logistical and drafting support to members without risking a suggestion of political favours
  • Increased consistency between Council and Committee provisions, by unifying substantial chunks of duplicated procedure.

Lowis noted that staff anticipates comments from the public about the first item on this list, in going digital with official notices. On one side of the board, it would exclude non-computer users, yet on the other, the current method of viewing them in-person is also exclusionary.

Council was all in favour of moving forward with revising the Bylaw, though no new changes can be made until two weeks after an official public notice is given.

There are no financial implications to the revised Bylaw.