Committee votes to move start time of Hamilton city council meetings to 9:30 a.m.

Members of Hamilton’s audit, finance and administration committee have voted 5-2 in favour of starting city council meetings at 9:30 a.m. rather than the current start time of 5 p.m., generally on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

Council meetings already take place during the day throughout the summer, and most standing committee meetings also start at 9:30 a.m.

All of the meetings are livestreamed and archived on the City of Hamilton’s website.

The proposed change is an attempt to address the length of meetings, which sometimes drag into the wee hours of morning, especially during the recent light-rail transit and Red Hill Valley Parkway debates.

However, Ward 1 Coun. Maureen Wilson opposes the change, saying her colleagues need to focus on ways to “further promote community engagement and participation” rather than “convenience.”

Glanbrook Coun. Brenda Johnson supports moving the start times, saying she “can’t imagine the staff here trying to get up the next morning to get to work at 8:30 after sitting through a very long meeting that goes sometimes until three o’clock in the morning.”

Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark also voted in favour of holding council meetings in the morning, but he stressed that colleagues could also look within themselves to bring the length of meetings under control.

“Councillors are leaving the room, and then they come back in and they’ve missed the questions and the answers, and the question gets asked again of the same staff that was asked not 15 minutes earlier,” Clark said.

Hamilton city council must still give final approval to the much-debated time change when it meets next Wednesday.

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