At the beginning of a City Council meeting, Council members adopt the minutes of the most recent previous meeting and read any correspondence or proclamations. A ‘proclamation’ is an official announcement.
This is followed by public participation and delegations (persons or groups wishing to speak to Council).
Then the agenda is discussed. Members of Council can ask questions about items and discuss the issues.
Making a motion and voting
Once an item has been discussed, a member of Council issues a motion (or makes a proposal for how to move the item forward) so that a decision can be made on the issue. Another member of Council is asked to ‘second’ (or agree with) the motion before it can be considered. Then all members of Council vote on the issue. Once a decision has been made, City staff are responsible for putting it into action.
An agenda item can be:
- Adopted: Council has adopted the item without any changes;
- Amended: Council has made some changes to the item before adopting it. These changes are called ‘amendments’;
- Deferred: Council has postponed making a decision about the item to a future meeting;
- Referred: Council has sent the item to a committee or staff for further study or action, before Council will make a decision;
- Received: Council has received the item for information only and will take no further action; or
- Defeated: Council had decided it will not move forward with the item.
The majority of Council meetings, including discussions, questions, and voting are open to the public. In some cases, however, when Council needs to consider private information (such as legal or personal information), as allowed by law, City Council temporarily meets in a ‘closed’ or 'in camera' session which is not open to the public.