Municipal council meetings are moving to the virtual world.
An amended order from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry restricts members of the public from in-person attendance council meetings and public hearings during the pandemic. This order is in effect for all local government meetings and public hearings across the province until it is rescinded or replaced.
For those who wish to still participate in this meeting’s question period are asked to submit questions pertaining to agenda items to firstname.lastname@example.org until 4 p.m. today.
The Village of Harrison Hot Springs Council is expected to vote today on hosting meetings on the popular online communications platform Zoom. This issue has been on minds of concerned Harrison residents attending the meetings since early November when council voted to migrate their previous video and audio recording setup from the normal council chambers to the COVID-safe temporary meeting place in Memorial Hall.
Tonight’s meeting will be archived on the village’s YouTube page and is expected to be uploaded on Tuesday, Dec. 8.
If the council approves of the village staff recommendations as written in the agenda, the mayor and council would attend meetings via Zoom on their personal devices and members of the public are welcome to attend via phone. Staff members will meet in person at Memorial Hall while exercising safety protocols; one member of staff would moderate the meeting.
If approved, up to $6,000 in COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant funding would be used to implement digital council meeting capabilities; there would further be $2,000 from the same funding source placed in the 2021 budget for additional labour costs related to tech support during meetings.
A question period would be open to all attendees at the designated time and all meetings would be archived on the village’s YouTube channel.
Meanwhile, the District of Kent, beginning Dec. 14, invite the public to listen in on Council meetings as they are conducte with live audio via Microsoft Teams. This is similar to what was already being done with public hearings, in which members of the public listened and submitted questions in real time. Question periods for council meetings are set up in much the same way as Harrison’s in that questions pertaining to agenda items may be submitted to the director of corporate services Clair Lee at email@example.com.
Information about upcomign meetings including agedas are posted on the district’s website, specifically at calendar.kentb.ca/meetings. Any further questions concerning getting set up for attending meetings virtually or participating in virtual public hearings can be directed to Lee at the email address above or by calling 604-796-2235.
The next Harrison Hot Springs Council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 21 at 7 p.m., location to be determined. The next District of Kent council meeting is slated for Dec. 14 at 7 p.m.
In an effort to curb COVID-19 spread, those who go to public indoor spaces throughout the village will be required to wear proper protective masks and practice social distancing. If you have symptoms of a cold or of COVID-19 (fever, coughing, fatigue), please stay home.
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