Skip to content

Good Neighbours Group wants city hall to return to regular operating hours

City hall reduced its operating hours nearly three years ago during the height of the pandemic, and with that situation over, some residents want the city to re-establish better hours.

City hall reduced its operating hours nearly three years ago during the height of the pandemic, and with that situation over, some residents want the city to re-establish better hours.

Carolyn Ross with the Good Neighbours Group (GNG) spoke to city council during its May 13 regular meeting and said city hall has been operating from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. since May 31, 2021. Moreover, staff have been working daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for several years while residents have been unable to come any earlier.

Moose Jaw is the fourth largest municipality in Saskatchewan and has the fewest number of accessible hours at any city hall, she continued. Furthermore, out of 53 cities, towns and villages that the GNG researched, The Friendly City has the fewest hours accessible to the public, second only to Morse, which has a population of 240.

“Every city hall and municipal office has returned to regular business hours, with the exception of Moose Jaw,” Ross said, noting a young family told the GNG that they had to take a vacation day to visit city hall to submit a permit application.

Ross added that the GNG wants council to implement operating hours at city hall of 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. immediately. 

Coun. Kim Robinson asked why city hall hadn’t returned to regular hours, with city manager Maryse Carmichael indicating the news release from May 2021 said the change was permanent. 

She extrapolated by saying one-third fewer residents were coming to city hall for business than in the past, likely because more people were going online to pay parking tickets or access the services they needed rather than coming in person.

Carmichael pointed out that city hall is open over lunchtime, while many small businesses aren’t, so it is meeting citizens’ needs. She said that administration could create a more detailed report with the reasons the hours have remained the same.

Asked whether there is a significant cost to extending hours, Carmichael said it’s important for city employees to be as productive and efficient as possible throughout the day. 

“The customer service reps we have downstairs use the first hour and forty-five minutes before city hall’s doors are open to do some of the work — either cash in or cash out — and also to do some of the work from online transactions we see overnight,” she said, adding employees spend the last hour of the day finishing tasks.

Coun. Heather Eby thought it would be beneficial to have a report about city hall’s hours so council could consider making a different decision. She noted that she was on council when that change occurred and later forgot about it, as she showed up early one morning recently to pay for a business licence only to find the doors still locked. 

“I know administration has its reasons, but council may want to have input and want to see things changed,” she added. 

Coun. Jamey Logan thought city hall could at least let customers in downstairs to pay tickets or drop off applications while restricting the rest of the building until 10 a.m.

He also thought city administration should review the website to see how user-friendly it is for paying bills since it’s not always easy to navigate.

Coun. Dawn Luhning thought it was pointless for administration to write a report considering staff were already working and there likely weren’t many savings by opening at 8:15 a.m.

Council then voted 5-2 to have administration produce a report about this topic; Robinson and Luhning were opposed.

The next regular council meeting is Monday, May 27. 

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks