A council that can't meet adds to its to-do list

A council that can't meet adds to its to-do list

· The Pulse

While security questions following the Jan. 23 shooting attack at city hall are obvious, the effects will be felt in other ways, too, co-hosts Mack Male and Troy Pavlek observed in Episode 248 of Speaking Municipally.

The cancellation of this week's committee meetings in the wake of the attack will create a "knock-on effect" that will add to the Items Due list the city keeps, which already runs to hundreds of items.

Pavlek said he expects city hall to remain closed for a significant period. One wrinkle, he added, is that city meetings currently require staff like clerks to be at the building to run them, even if councillors stay virtual. This nearly guarantees delays. "Because we're pushing some stuff (forward), the most important stuff will get routed through a general review," he said.

The result? Sorry, downtown pedestrianization plan, which is currently scheduled to be discussed on Feb. 9 and has already been rescheduled twice. Both hosts expect that meeting to get bumped, along with many others. "I mean, if they could reschedule the police funding formula three, four, or five times, what's another reschedule on a pedestrianization report," Male said.

The question of what city hall will be like in the future also interested Taproot's civic affairs podcast. Male observed that councillors have shared sentiments about wanting city hall to remain as open to the public as possible, while also being safe.

"(T)hey're going to have to try to find some kind of a balance between real safety improvements and security improvements, and that sort of accessible, open to the public, open to the community thing that is so great about city hall," Male said.

Another question that could come up is where to hold meetings at city hall. Male wondered if future committee meetings in the River Valley Room could be pushed to the main council chambers, as it already has metal detectors and far less direct access to councillors. "It would seem to me easier to secure one room rather than multiple rooms," he said.

Speaking Municipally also chimed in on the impending closure of the Edmonton Downtown Farmers' Market after an unsuccessful stint at 10305 97 St NW. Male said he is not surprised by the institution's demise.

"It's really sad that an organization, an institution in this city, that's been around for more than 120 years, is now facing bankruptcy and about to shut down," said Male, who noted that he decided to raise his family on 104 Street in part because of the market's presence there before it moved indoors. "I don't have a lot of sympathy for them … for the most part it was handed to them on a silver platter … and all the market did in that time was refuse to go back outside, talk only about the free parking … and exclude vendors because of competitive concerns."

Hear more about these issues as well as the single-use item bylaw, Oliver's new name, and some high-profile departures on the Jan. 26 episode.

Photo: A 2013 photo of empty council chambers before the city installed some of the newest security measures, such as glass partitions between councillors and metal detectors at the single public entrance. (Mack Male/Flickr)