Council Meetings and Notice Requirements

What are the different types of council meetings?

Regular council meetings are the primary type of council meetings.  A regular meeting schedule must be set and published every year.  A council must meet at least 6 times a year in a format open to the public (see section 110 of the MGA).

A special meeting must be called by a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) when requested to do so by the mayor or a majority of councillors. 

Meetings of committees of council can be set as regularly scheduled meetings or called as special meetings. 

All municipal councils are required to develop a Procedural Bylaw that establishes roles of procedure for council and council committee meetings, including:

  • Creating council committees and their functions,
  • Calling, rescheduling and cancelling meetings,
  • Processes for giving advance public notice of meetings and council committee meetings, and
  • Standards for how meetings will be governed.  

Is there an annual meeting of council?

No.  Under previous legislation many municipalities were required to have an annual meeting (sometimes called an annual general meeting). 

Under the current legislation, all municipalities must set a regular schedule of yearly meetings. 

Is there a public meeting about the financial plan?

Every municipality is required to have a public meeting in respect of the financial plan (which includes the operational budget, 5 year capital expenditure program, and asset management plan).  This public meeting must take place at least two weeks before council adopts the financial plan.  The financial plan must be adopted by council by March 31. Please review sections 149 - 158 of the MGA.

Public notice of the meeting must be given.  Members of the public do not vote on the municipality's financial plan. 

Financial Plan (Budget) and Financial Reporting has more information. 

What are the public notice requirements for meetings?

Public notice is required for all council meetings, including council committee meetings. 

The regular meeting schedule must be published by:

  • Electronic notice (at minimum on a website that is available to the public)
  • At least one other way:
    • A sign or poster in a place that is accessible to the public
    • Newsletter
    • Newspaper

Where a municipality has a Procedural Bylaw in place, the Bylaw must state how the public will be notified about special meetings. The notice of a special meeting must be published at least 24 hours before the meeting:

  • By electronic notice (at minimum on a website that is available to the public), 
  • By sign or poster in a place that is accessible to the public, 
  • And may include any other ways the municipality wishes to inform the public.

The notice of a special meeting must include the reason for the meeting.

If a municipality has not yet adopted its Procedural Bylaw (or updated it to include ways of giving notice), it must advertise the special meeting through local media (at least 24 hours before the special meeting).  

View the Fact Sheet: Notice Requirements for more detailed information.

What if the time, place or a date of a meeting needs to be changed?

Public notice is required if a meeting is being changed.  There must:

  • Be at least 24 hours’ notice of the new time, place, or date of the meeting by:
    • Electronic notice (at minimum on a website that is available to the public) AND
    • A sign or poster in a place that is accessible to the public 
  • Be direct notice to all members of council

Are council meetings public?

Council meetings and council committee meetings must take place in public (except for closed meetings).  All decisions of a council must be made by a vote by the majority of councillors at a public meeting.

If a council meeting is going to take place electronically, or council members are participating electronically, a procedural bylaw must be in place establishing the rules for electronic meetings or electronic participation in compliance with the Municipal Government Act (MGA).    

When can a council close a meeting to the public?

A council or council committee may by resolution close all or part of a meeting to the public.  This can be done ahead of the meeting or at the meeting but there must be a public record of the decision (resolution) to have the closed meeting and of the meeting itself.   

Meetings may only be closed to the public to discuss confidential matters.  These matters are listed in subsection 119(1) of the MGA and council must state the category of the matter they are discussing. 

During a closed meeting, council can not pass a bylaw or resolution, other than a resolution:

  • Giving  instructions to the lawyer for the municipality
  • Giving instructions to any person negotiating a contract on behalf of the municipality
  • Giving directions to employees on confidential matters
  • Adjourning the closed meeting or
  • Opening the meeting to the public

All decisions on matters discussed at the closed meeting must be made at a public meeting of council and recorded in the minutes. 

Note: This page is prepared for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specialized legal or professional advice.
Published date: 
January 24, 2018