Red Deer city clerk Frieda McDougall will collect citizen opinions at public hearings by email. (Red Deer Advocate photo).

Catching up on Red Deer business means holding more city council meetings this summer

Public hearings will be held with emailed responses

Red Deer city council will meet more often this summer to “catch-up” on municipal business — and hold public hearings by email.

Both of these COVID-19-related changes were approved at Monday’s council meeting.

City manager Allan Seabrooke told council that the continued disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in operational and community needs for a more “nimble” decision-making process.

Rather than having one city council meeting every second Monday, a summer schedule was approved that will see council meeting twice a week throughout June (on the 1st, 3rd, 8th, 10th, 15th, 17th, 22nd, 24th, and 29th) and into July (on the 6th, 8th, 13th, 15th, and 20th).

The May meetings are on the 13th, 20th, and 25th.

All of these meetings are scheduled to start at 1:30 and end by 5 p.m., and be seen via video conference on the city’s website.

Seabrooke said, “We need to keep the business flowing and catch up a bit before we go to summer break” — which usually happens in early August.

Mayor Tara Veer previously stated that the financial operations of the cash-strapped Westerner Park will be an ongoing issue that council will be dealing with throughout the summer.

Although Seabrooke anticipates an eventual return to in-person meetings in council chambers — perhaps in the later phases of the province’s re-opening — social distancing measures still apply for now.

As gatherings can be no larger than 15 people, opinions at public hearings can be made collected by email, said city clerk Frieda McDougall.

Anyone wanting to show their support or opposition to a bylaw should email in their statement and McDougall will share it with council and read it into the record. She said these emails can be sent in advance, or even during a public hearing.

Red Deer City Council

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