Local Government Meetings
Local government meetings are gatherings where municipal council or regional district board members make decisions or move toward making decisions. Most meetings are open to the public to facilitate transparency and accountability of the council or the board.
A municipal council or regional district board meeting is generally a gathering that:
- All members of the council or the board are invited to, and
- Is a material part of the council or the board’s decision-making process.
Transparency and fairness of meetings and the decision-making process of elected officials are central to the principles of accountable government. To uphold these principles, provincial rules and a local government's procedure bylaws govern how meetings are administered.
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The Local Government Act and Community Charter provide local governments with the authorities needed to hold and conduct various types of meetings. In specific circumstances a local government has the authority to hold a closed meeting. Meetings may be held inside or outside the boundaries of the local government.
Open Meeting Rules
Most municipal council and regional district board meetings and meetings of their committees, commissions and similar bodies are open to the public.
Meetings closed to the public, also known as in-camera meetings, may only be held in accordance with the procedural requirements of the Community Charter. These meetings may only be held in very specific circumstances, for example, discussion of a legal or human resources matter.
Both municipal councils and regional district boards are required to hold regularly scheduled meetings.
A special meeting is a municipal council or regional district board meeting other than a regular or statutory meeting, such as an annual general meeting. Special meetings may be used to address urgent business or consider key matters facing the council or the board. Special meetings require public notice and may only be held in accordance with the Community Charter.
Electronic meetings provide flexibility to municipal councils and regional district boards to conduct business without compromising public access to the decision-making process. Council or board members may attend meetings they would otherwise miss due to travel commitments, inclement weather, illness or other factors, if permitted by the local government's procedure bylaw.
Annual General Meetings
Municipal councils and regional district boards must present their financial statements and reports on an annual basis at a public meeting.
Municipal councils and regional district boards must outline procedures for holding committee meetings and giving advance notice to the public of such meetings in their procedure bylaw.
Like council and board meetings, committee meetings must be open to the public as a general rule.
When creating a commission, municipal councils and regional district boards need to determine whether to apply the existing meeting procedures from the procedure bylaw, or to design specific procedures for the commission.
The Community Charter requires that the rules established by the procedure bylaw for taking minutes at committee meetings apply to council commissions, unless the procedure bylaw establishes other rules. Beyond that, councils may establish whatever procedural rules for commissions they consider necessary.
Like council and board meetings, all council and board commission meetings must be open to the public as a general rule.