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Time for a change?

(Cartoon by George Longley)

When the clock heads towards midnight, most of us are winding down our day, and getting ready to lay our head down on the pillow.

But at least once a month, city councillors, staff, and some residents can be found in chambers debating a wide variety of issues at that late hour.

For some time now, the public portion of Oshawa’s city council meetings have begun at 6:30 p.m.

Once the singing of O Canada and other pieces of business are addressed, such as greetings from councillors or conflict of interest declarations, the meetings actually usually move onto the agenda between 7 to 7:15 p.m.

While once in a while a meeting will wrap up before the clock strikes 10 p.m., other times meetings have stretched into the early mornings of the following day.

A few weeks ago, Ward 2 city and regional councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri brought forward a notice of motion which would see meeting start times shift to 9:30 a.m.

The motion was the subject of a lengthy debate at the city’s corporate services committee this week.

The majority of committee members were in favour of the move, although not all were as excited at the notion.

The overriding argument in favour is that most council meetings don’t attract widespread attention.

Anyone who attends a council meeting will see this is a fact more often than not.

There are a handful of faithful residents who attend every meeting, but for the most part, attendance only increases when there is a hot-button issue on the agenda.

The vast majority of the city’s committee meetings are held during the day, and when there is something people are passionate about, they will show up.

Another issue to consider is overtime pay and time in lieu staff members rack up during these marathon council meetings.

On top of all this, when meetings begin to reach the very late evenings, people simply get tired. Staff, and councillors for that matter, may not be at the top of their game when they’re doing their best not to doze off.

There is no harm in trying something different, but the city should ask the public what they want before deciding.

A decision like this should not be made without feedback from the residents, and we can be sure if they aren’t in favour, council will hear the message appropriately.