It’s another sign that changes in procedures brought about by the pandemic have proven to be more efficient than existing practices. As a result, Hamilton staff are recommending changes to the city’s procedural bylaws to allow both Council and Citizen advisory committees to continue as virtual meetings. Under the current council rules, virtual meetings are only allowed in an emergency—as is the current case with the pandemic. A Staff report says there will be additional costs of about $180,000 yearly to add two staffers plus some software and hardware upgrades.
The staff report says.” There are currently six (6) Legislative Coordinators supporting 63 Committees of Council. While these committees are not all operating within the regular two-week cycle, they do operate throughout the year and during committee and council weeks.”
“This past year has brought a notable increase in the number of residents that have been able to participate virtually and through videos. Each additional FTE would support three (3) Legislative Coordinators and would also assist with the clerking of Sub-Committee meetings and Office of the City Clerk supported Advisory Committee meetings.”
“Staff believe removing the barrier of in person only delegations will increase opportunities for citizen engagement and promote a more equitable participation for citizens. Staff have received positive feedback from residents who have been able to take advantage of virtual delegation and the video submission process.”
The report says the additional staff will be needed one City Hall reopens because staff that have been maintaining the virtual meeting infrastructure will have to also provide counter service to the public. The report will be discussed at the next meeting of the City Governance review sub-committee.