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"So, what do City Councillors do?"

A question I frequently get is "so, what do you actually do as a City Councillor?" If you have ever had this question, this post if for you.


In General

All of us on Council approach this job differently. Here’s how I spend my time:

  • Attend meetings to learn, contribute to conversation, and vote. We have an official City Council meeting every two weeks and we meet as a group at other times as needed. There are weekly Council Sub-Committee meetings. Every Councillor is also appointed to several other boards and committees.
  • Prepare for meetings. Most meetings come with a thick reading packet. I not only read and mark these up, but also spend time doing additional reading or talking to people to fully understand the meeting materials.
  • Attend community events. Events are important because they allow me to learn about our community, be available to talk to community members, and show support to community organisations.
  • Go for coffee. I’ve asked to meet with a number of people because I want to learn more about their experiences or an organisation they represent. I’ve also had many people ask to meet with me to ask questions, share a perspective, or express concerns. There are a few rare circumstances that would make it inappropriate for me to meet someone (example: they are part of a case that I might hear as a member of the Subdivision Appeal Board). But generally, I am always open to meeting if you want to chat.
  • Read. I want to make informed votes and propose good ideas, so I spend time studying. Areas of focus have included infrastructure management, procurement best practices, homelessness and addiction, federal infrastructure and housing initiatives, and poking around other municipalities’ websites.
  • Reading, writing and commenting online. I want to make information easily available. I also want to get as many perspectives as I can for our community. So spend time writing for this website and participating in Facebook conversations (especially through the GP Round Table group).
  • Return phone calls and emails.

I aim to work about 30 hours per week for City Council. In addition, my Young Life job requires 20 hours per week.


This Week

My job as a City Councillor is very different week-to-week. However, I seem to have done a little of everything this past week. Here are some of the tasks I accomplished:

  • Coffee with a Provincial Candidate: A person hoping to be a Grande Prairie MLA asked for coffee with me. I was happy to meet and present some of the City's advocacy priorities. (2 hours)
  • Agenda Review: Got up to speed for City Council's meeting. (1 hour)
  • City Council Meetings: Attended our bi-weekly meeting on Monday. It included an in-camera portion. (6 hours)
  • Citizen Coffee: I was asked to have a coffee with someone who had concerns about the City's approach to affordable housing and many other topics in our community. (1.5 hours)
  • Community Living Committee Meeting (3.5 hour)
  • Learning Coffee: I want to learn more about our development industry. I asked a home builder to get coffee with me. (1.5 hours)
  • Wrote a Blog Post (1.5 hours)
  • Aquatera Shareholders Meeting: City, County, and Town of Sexsmith Councillors met with Aquatera executives and board members to get a report on the corporation's operations (2 hours)
  • Youth Council Year-End Party: I got to know some of the members of the City's Youth Council and hear a report on its activities throughout the past school year (2 hours)
  • Bear Creek Folk Festival Meeting: The board asked me to come to a meeting to update them on cannabis legalization (1 hour)
  • United Way Big Cheque Event: At this event, United Way gave out funding to a number of local and regional non-profits (1.5 hours)
  • Provincial Emergency Management Session: The province is making changes to its Emergency Management policies and practices. I attended part of a session to hear what has been discussed to date. (1 hour)
  • Regional Recreation Committee Meeting Prep: I was asked to chair a meeting of the Regional Recreational Committee. Since I am not a regular member of this group, I spent time reading and talking to staff to get up to speed. (2.5 hours)
  • Attended Transportation Master Plan Open House (1.5 hours)
  • Chaired Regional Recreation Committee Meeting (3 hours)
  • Attended National Aboriginal Day Celebration (2 hours)
  • Agenda Review: reviewed agenda material for next week's City Council meetings (1 hour)
  • Learning Coffee: I setup a coffee with a senior health care administrator to learn more about their experiences and lessons learned (2 hours)
  • Attended Chamber Event, CEO's Retirement (3 hours)
  • Brought Greetings from Mayor Given to a Skateboard competition (2 hours)
  • Wrote this blog post (0.5 hours)
  • Returned emails and phone calls, engaged on social media (1 hour)

That is a snap shot of what we do on City Council. It is a fun job, but it has also made me appreciate my days off!