The Good Neighbours Group address city council last Monday night with concerns over the hours that City Hall is accessible to the public. 

Carolyn Ross with the Good Neighbours Group addressed city council saying that it came to their attention that city employees are at City Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, City Hall is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

She said the City Hall hours are an inconvenience to many residents that the Good Neighbours Group have spoken to. 

“One young family I spoke to had to take vacation days from their jobs to access City Hall for a permit application,” Ross told city council. 

Ross added that Moose Jaw's City Hall is one of the least accessible of all the cities in the province. 

"Moose Jaw is the fourth largest city in Saskatchewan and we have the least amount of public access hours to city hall. Moose Jaw is running a close second to Morse, Saskatchewan with a population of 240 people,” Ross said. 

The group was asking that City Hall's hours be extended to 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

City Manager Maryse Carmichael said, when the hours were changed on May 31, 2021, the press release said it was the “new permanent hours.”  

She explained that there has been a reduction of a third of the people coming to City Hall to do regular business as many people are opting to take advantage of the city’s online services. 

“It seems like it's a new norm certainly for residents to use more and more the services that we have online,” Carmichael said. 

Carmichael also noted that City Hall is open during the lunch hour so it is open straight from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Coun. Kim Robinson asked if there would be a significant cost to extending the hours and if the reduction number are because there aren’t as many open hours. 

Carmichael replied that it is about using staff efficiently. During the first hour and 45 minutes, Carmichael said staff is dealing with overnight online submissions and cashing in or out. 

Coun. Heather Eby said it would be beneficial to get a report from city administration about the reasons for limited hours at City Hall. 

“It is inconvenient. I would appreciate seeing the full report. Maybe there is a different decision to be made. I know administration has their reasons but council make have some other input that we might want to see things changed,” said Eby. 

Coun. Jamey Logan felt that also should be included in the report is the option of having the front desk opened from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. and limit the hours of access to specific departments. 

“I’m wondering if, then, with this report if perhaps we could look at the option of having citizens at the very least come in and talk to the customer service reps at the front desk and perhaps not gain access to the rest of the building but come in and deal with parking tickets and dropping off payments or permit applications and things,” Logan said. 

Coun. Dawn Luhning was in favour to extending the hours, but felt having a report from city administration was a waste of time. 

“Staff are here. In my mind, I don’t think there is additional costs to having the doors open at 8 o’clock but I could be wrong in that regard. I don’t know we should go back to regular hours. That’s just my opinion and I think it is long overdue already,” she said. 

City council voted in favour of getting a report back from city administration by a vote of 5-2 with councillors Luhning and Robinson opposed.