Preparing for a Mock Council Meeting
We recognized the endless potential in providing students with a more fulsome experience when they attend a mock council, incorporating the important role of administration that tells a more complete story of municipal government. The following information was designed to assist you and your class in preparation for your visit to facilitate a richer, more enjoyable experience.
Helpful hints on how to set up your Mock Council
Have your students elect or appoint a Mayor and six Councilors, through classroom elections, selecting volunteers for the role or use another method to choose ‘Elected Members.’ The chosen students should want one of these roles and should be relatively confident in speaking out and articulating their ideas. We suggest that classes have two sets of students role play. This provides an opportunity for all students to participate and will allow for more engagement.
In addition to the Mayor and six Councilors, we suggest that you have students fill the following Administrative positions:
- City Manager: The one and only employee of City Council. The City Manager oversees the entire organization, with the assistance of the city’s Executive Team;
- City Clerk: responsible for preparing Council and Committee of the Whole agendas, taking minutes at the meetings, annual city census, operating appeal boards and coordinating municipal elections. The student(s) playing the role of City Clerk should be comfortable with writing and taking notes;
- City Solicitor - provides legal support, and oversees corporate records and City Clerk’s office;
- General Manager of Community and Protective Services - oversees Protective services (police, fire ambulance and emergency services) and Community Services (Parks and Recreation and Family Community Support Services);
- General Manager of Corporate Services - oversees the finance department (operating and capital budget planning, taxes and utilities), human resources, corporate communications and information technology; and
- General Manager of Infrastructure and Planning - oversees infrastructure (water, sewer, snow removal), engineering (new roads and infrastructure) public transportation, facilities management, economic development, long and short term planning (development permits, land-use planning).
Students sitting as administrative staff have a better understanding of administration’s role and can participate fully with their mock council classmates by presenting reports and answering Council’s questions. Feedback from our participating councilors, staff, students and teachers has been tremendous, everyone has been enthusiastic with this greater level of student participation. We are all very proud of our new program and the educational opportunity this provides our future.
We suggest your class comes up with two or three items for debate. Proposals should be in the form of a specific request to Council for a particular action and be comprehensive enough to fill 15 minutes of debate. This will help students engage in healthy debate and ensure the meeting does not lose momentum.
Once you have the two to three items, a fun project might be for the class to prepare reports on those items (setting out the pros and cons as well as budget concerns). Generally in a Council meeting, the Administration team will present reports to members of Council to debate and vote on. Students who are chosen as members of the Administrative team present their reports to the Mock Council for debate and an eventual vote by Council.
The remaining students will sit in the gallery and have an opportunity to ask questions. You may also wish to have a student or two participate as a member of the media and write a “news article” about their classes’ mock council experience.
Meetings must be conducted in an orderly manner and be open so that the public can attend, in most cases. The meeting procedures ensure that all Council Members have the same opportunity to participate in the debate and have their views heard.
The Municipal Government Act and Robert’s Rules of Order have specific requirements regarding conducting how meetings are conducted and there is a Bylaw, which must also be followed. The Act allows some flexibility so the procedures listed below may not be the same for all Councils. Councils must follow the Code of Conduct Bylaw.
- The Mayor presides over the meeting (if the Mayor is not present the "deputy" mayor assumes this role).
- A meeting cannot be held unless there is a "quorum" - this means that there must be at least four members of Council present at the meeting
- An agenda is prepared and sent to all Council Members three days before each meeting. The agenda describes the items that will be discussed at the meeting.
- The Mayor will indicate when an issue is ready to be discussed.
- Once a Motion has been moved, the Council Member can "talk to the motion" - this means they can discuss what the motion means and any issues around the topic (they cannot be interrupted during this limited time).
- Other Council Members then have an opportunity to ask questions, or to speak to the motion and portray their views on the matter. They can support the motion, speak against the motion, or suggest alternative views or actions.
- The Mayor will then call for a vote and every Member must either vote in favour or against the motion.
- A motion is passed when the majority of those present, vote in favour of the motion. If a vote is tied, the motion has been defeated
- Once a motion is moved, a Council Member can move a motion which in effect can change the original motion. This is called an Amendment, and is governed by a process of its own.
- If someone on the Council has a conflict of interest on a motion then they must provide a reason to leave the chamber for the discussion and vote. This is called a Pecuniary Interest.
- Council Members indicate to the Mayor that they would like to speak on a motion. The Mayor will invite them to speak, and control who speaks next.
Meetings are set annually at the Organizational meeting of the Council. The City of Leduc holds their organizational meeting in October of each year. Meetings must be publicly advertised. This is done by putting a notice of the meeting and a copy of the agenda in the main Council office.
Residents seeking to speak at a Council meeting must request to do so in writing before the meeting. The City of Leduc holds Pubic Commentary where the public can speak to anything that is NOT on the agenda for that night. Minutes of a meeting must be kept.
The Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOIP) lists a number of matters that Council is able to discuss In Camera and in these circumstances, a Council may exclude the public from that part of the meeting where the item is considered.
Following the Meeting Script
- At all times, the student who is the Mayor is addressed by Council, staff members and members of the general public as 'Mister Mayor,' 'Madame Mayor,' or 'Your Worship' - highlighting the importance of the position.
- Participants are to be reminded that they are no longer students but are elected officials who are representing the community and must represent the needs and concerns of all residents.
- Those taking the part of ratepayers are encouraged to represent different members of the community.
- The Mayor chairs the meeting and controls the discussion.
- All discussion must go through the Mayor as the chair of the meeting.
- The Mayor calls for order if necessary, using the gavel.
- When the Mayor feels that there has been enough discussion he/she calls for a motion.
- Mayor: 'There has been enough discussion. I would like to call for a motion.'
- A Councillor puts forward a motion by saying "I put forward the motion that we….."
- Mayor: 'All in favour of the motion raise your hand…Those against. The Motion is carried/lost.
Possible Debate Topics for 2019/20
- Off-leash Parks
- New recreation facilities / expansion of city facilities
- Increasing monitoring and fines for vandalism
- Speed limits in playground/school zones
- Intersection Safety Devices
- Bike / electric scooter share service
- Banning single-use plastics (bags, take out containers, plastic utensils, straws)
- Climate and environmental awareness (electric plug in for vehicles, solar panels)
- Community inclusiveness
For timing purposes, we recommend blocking up to 2.5 hours for a session. Fill out our online form to request a Mock Council date for your class. If you have any further questions, contact us at by email or calling 780-980-7177.