MUSKOKA - The District of Muskoka is considering reducing its meeting cycle from every three weeks to once a month.
Currently the district meets every three weeks for council Monday night, followed by committee meetings throughout the week. It is considering moving all its meetings to a four-week cycle.
Most area mayors are in favour of the change, but Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith voiced his concern that fewer meetings means district councillors will be less in touch with what’s happening in the community at the district level.
“The less times we’re obligated to be here, the more we remove ourselves from the situation,” Smith said.
While the Township of Muskoka Lakes recently scheduled its meetings to land on the same week as the district’s meetings, Mayor Alice Murphy voiced her approval of longer meetings, saying a 45-minute meeting is too short to drive for.
“I think we can increase our touchy-feely by having longer meetings,” Murphy said.
Currently the drive is sometimes twice as long for her as the meeting itself.
“If I’m going to take the time to come here, I’d like it to be substantive,” she said.
In the past the district met every two weeks, eventually moving to a three-week cycle.
Lake of Bays and Huntsville have already made the switch to monthly meetings in their municipalities and are pleased with the results. Gravenhurst is also planning to move to a monthly cycle.
As a trade-off for only meeting once a month instead of every two or three weeks, those townships have chosen not to take a break in the summer, as they typically did before.
Huntsville Mayor Claude Doughty said it has been a cost saver for the town. If they need to, they can always have an extra committee of the whole and council meeting in the middle of the cycle, he explained.
District CAO Jim Green voiced concern that issues could get tied up in public works for too long between the meeting cycles, hindering projects from moving forward in a timely manner.
The issue was sent to staff to study and will be brought back at a later date.