Oath of Office and then to Work - Meetings

Oath of Office

All elected officials must by oath, either swear or declare that they will faithfully, diligently and to the best of their ability fulfill the duties of the office to which they have been elected.

Meetings and Meeting How-tos

Organizational Meeting

The first meeting of the newly elected person will attend will be the Organizational Meeting of the jurisdiction.

The Organizational Meeting will be held within two weeks of the election. Generally, this is the meeting where the newly elected officials will be sworn to office.

This is the meeting at which the deputy mayor or deputy reeve is elected from within the council by the council members. Council members and committee members are appointed to the council committees and other boards associated with council. i.e. water commissions, senior's foundations, and regional landfill committees to name a few. In some jurisdictions where the mayor or reeve has not been elected at large, the mayor or reeve will be elected from within the council.

If there is normal council business to be conducted, the organizational meeting must be adjourned and the regular meeting convened and recorded as a separate meeting. An Organizational Meeting is held annually, not later than 2 weeks after the 3rd Monday in October with the exception of Summer Villages.

See section 192, Municipal Government Act

Council Committees

Council creates council committees and appoints committee members to deal with ongoing issues (standing committees). Council may decide to create a temporary committee to look at a specific issue (adhoc committees). Standing committees run from year to year to deal with ongoing issues.

Committees can play a bigger role in making decisions on issues for council. If council wants a committee to make decisions, council may delegate some of its powers to the committee. If a committee makes a decision delegated to it by council, it is then as if the council made the decision itself. Some council decisions, such as adopting the budget, cannot be delegated.

If council is the disaster services committee, you may have some specific responsibilities in the case of a local emergency. You need to know what those responsibilities are and how they are to be carried out. The system of emergency response is described in the Public Safety Services Act.

Commissions

Commissions are a separate legal entity.

See section 602, Municipal Government Act

Commissions are a particular type of non-profit corporate entity which can be utilized by municipalities to provide joint services. However, Commission are distinct from the municipalities which create them. They are also different from other forms of quasi municipal organizations or entities. These distinctions pay a role in determining the roles and duties of Commission Board Members.

Member Municipalities should be referred to as "Municipal Members". Members of the Board of Directors of a commission should be referred to as "Board Members".
There is a clear distinction between the members Municipalities of the Commission and the Commission itself. Section 602.03 of the MGA specifically provides that a commission is a corporation. Section 4 of the MGA also provides that municipality is a corporation. Both the municipality and a commission are separate and distinct legal entities. Commissions are not council committees. They are separate legal entities.
These distinctions can pose a number of issues for Commission, their Municipal Members, and Councillors who are Board Members of a Commission. Some of these issues are:

  1. Board Members in their capacity as Commission Board Members owe a duty to the Commission to act in the best interest of the Commission, not their municipalities.
  2. Commission Board must generally meet in public. However they may also close parts of their meeting to the public for in camera (private discussions) related to matters protected from disclosure by FOIPP (S602.08 of the MGA). The practical difficulty this creates however is that Board Members cannot report back to their municipalities about matters discussed in camera at Commission Meetings.
  3. Most municipalities, and Commissions, do not normally release to the public draft documents, including minutes, unless and until they are approved. Draft documents are generally protected from disclosure by FOIPP. While draft document and are often distributed to Commission Board Members as part of the approval process, they should not be distributed to Municipal Members prior to approval. Obviously, they should not become public through municipal processes (e.g. municipal council Meetings) prior to approval by the Commission's Board of Directors (or Committee where applicable)
  4. Municipal councillors are subject to pecuniary interest provisions contained in the MGA. There are no equivalent provisions in Section 602 of the MGA. The extent of applicable conflict rules would have to be addressed in the Commission bylaws.
  5. Board Members should be aware that they may incur personal liability for certain breaches of duty.
  6. See sections 602.25 & 602.3 Municipal Government Act

Regular and Special Meetings

Council will decide how many meetings are needed to oversee the running of the municipality. The decision to hold regular meetings must be made at a meeting with all councillors present. The time and place of a regular council meeting can be changed. Not all councillors need to be present at the meeting when the time or place is changed. However, all the council members and the public must be given twenty-four (24) hours notice of the change.

Open to the Public

All council and council committee meetings must be open to the public. The only people who may not attend the meeting are people who have been expelled as a result of improper conduct.

In Camera

There are times when council or a council must discuss something in private. Personnel matters, where it would be unfair to the people involved to have the issue discussed in public, are a common example. When this happens, council or a council committee can meet privately by going in camera to discuss the matter. Resolutions or bylaws cannot be passed while "in camera". Any decisions must still be made at a meeting open to the public. Under the MGA, councillors are required to keep in confidence matters discussed in private at a council or council committee meeting. They must keep this confidence until the matter is discussed at a meeting held in public.

Quorum

A quorum is a majority (50 percent + one) of councillors making up the municipal council. A quorum must be present at a council meeting for any resolution or bylaw to be valid.

Special Meetings

There will be occasions when important business needs council attention. A special meeting can be called if the Chief Elected Officer (mayor or reeve) believes one is needed or if a majority of councillors request one in writing.

Electronic Meetings

Council and council committees may hold meetings by means of electronic or other communication facilities, rather than in person. Notice must be given to the public of such a meeting, including the way it will be conducted. The facilities must enable all the meeting's participants to watch or hear each other, and the public to watch or listen.

Voting

You are on council to make decisions, and that means voting on all resolutions and bylaws unless you are required or permitted to abstain from voting. Council must ensure that each abstention and the reason for it are recorded in the minutes of the meeting. If there is a public hearing on a proposed bylaw or resolution, you must abstain from voting on the bylaw or resolution if you were absent from all of a public hearing, and you may abstain if you were absent for a part of a public hearing. You must also abstain from voting on matters in which you have a pecuniary interest (monetary interest).

Before a vote is taken, you may request that the vote be recorded. The minutes must show the names of the councillors present and how they voted. When there is a tie vote on a motion, the motion is defeated.

Alberta's municipal councillors have a strong record of public service to their communities. As a public servant, you are responsible for upholding the public interest ahead of any private interest you may have.