Votes made on every issue by Lacombe councillors will be recorded for the public to see.
Council approved a procedural bylaw at its meeting Monday, requiring all votes to be recorded. Previously, council notes would only show if a motion was approved or not.
“It’s essentially an accountability and transparency mechanism,” said Coun. Thalia Hibbs. “We don’t necessarily have a lot of people in the gallery at a meeting, but people are interested to see what the results of a vote are.”
Hibbs said increasing councillor accountability is something she has pushed for.
“I received a lot of positive feedback on it. It’s something people were looking for, that increased accountability on council,” she said.
Hibbs said she doesn’t believe too many municipalities record councillor votes.
In addition to making vote results public, the bylaw includes an open community forum that will start regular council meetings.
“It makes council more accessible,” said Hibbs. “Residents or ratepayers … may have a question or they may have an issue they want to bring forward. Whatever it may be, it gives them a platform to be heard by council.”
People will be able to schedule a presentation by noon the day of a council meeting. In the past, presentations needed to be booked further in advance and a presenter would need to jump through hoops to get on the agenda, Hibbs said.
Residents won’t be able to address something already on the council’s agenda, she added.
The bylaw’s approval also means council meeting agendas will be released Thursdays instead of Fridays.
“It might not sound like it’s a huge difference, but it does allow another full day for people to review these rather lengthy documents,” said Hibbs.
Mayor Grant Creasey said council is making every effort to provide the public with access to as much information as possible.
“I am pleased that the passage of this bylaw serves to make council more accountable to residents by providing increased access to elected officials and improving public participation in civic decision-making,” said Creasey.
The new bylaw takes effect immediately.
Matthew Goudy, acting chief administrative officer, said administration is investigating possible strategies for live streaming council meetings. Those strategies will be presented to council for approval.