With municipal hall closed to the public and the COVID-19 virus a threat to all, Oak Bay staff and council are now seeking alternative measures to holding council meetings and how staff can serve residents from behind closed doors.
Council gave three readings to a procedure bylaw amendment at Monday night’s abbreviated meeting with a goal of changing “the provisions for electronic participation in meetings.”
Translated, under council’s direction staff are working to amend the current bylaws so councillors and mayor can participate at council meetings remotely via a live-streaming program such as Skype, Zoom, BlueJeans or other.
At the moment, there is a maximum number of councillors who can participate in a meeting remotely, however the proposed amendment will permit councillors to participate remotely so that council and committee of the whole meetings can make quorum.
It might mean having a maximum number of times each council member can participate remotely, and also outline under which circumstances it is permissible.
“We’re also looking at other things, like waiving penalties for late payments for those people that can’t get into municipal hall to pay their utility bills,” said Murdoch. “And it’s other odds and ends that allow us to keep doing business [during the precautionary closures].”
Staff consider it a “critical” amendment during times of emergency situations such as a natural disaster or pandemic to ensure that quorum can be made allowing for council to conduct the necessary business.
The remote participation bylaw requires one more reading.