Sooke councillors debate the issues online during a May 10, 2021 council meeting. (YouTube/District of Sooke)

Sooke councillors debate the issues online during a May 10, 2021 council meeting. (YouTube/District of Sooke)

Sooke mayor eyes provincial plan to keep online council meetings

Province wants online council meetings expanded in B.C.

A B.C. government plan to keep online meetings and public hearings available as an option for local governments after pandemic restrictions are lifted is a double-edged sword, says Sooke Mayor Maja Tait.

“There are positives in trying to encourage public participation in municipal government, but in some ways, it also seems to be a barrier,” Tait said.

In introducing amendments in the B.C. legislature earlier this month, the province said giving people more options to participate in public meetings is more equitable to those who face barriers to joining in person.

The new law would allow communities to do a mix of virtual, in-person or hybrid meetings while maintaining “transparency safeguards.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all our lives, and local governments have been on the frontlines delivering the critical services people in communities count on. The lessons we’ve learned during the past year have shown us how we can do things better,” Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne said.

The legislation also allows municipalities to pass bylaws to allow expanded eligibility for mail-in voting and authority to borrow from financial reserves to cover operating expenses and repay later.

Tait favours a hybrid online model to what exists now.

She said more financial support and IT resources would need to be implemented to make it work.

“There are lots of glitches in the current system,” she said.

Several times over the last year, council meetings needed to be postponed or delayed because of technical difficulties. The meetings also draw few onlookers. (Only five viewers were recorded from council’s May 10 online meeting).

Tait said one of the problems with online meetings, which municipalities have been forced into over the last year due to COVID-19, is the inability to pick up on non-verbal communication cues you detect at an in-person public meeting.

”We’ve been able to do business and continue, which is great, but I really miss being in the meeting in chambers with the public,” she said.

Tait hopes the province consults with local governments before the new rules are enshrined in legislation.

RELATED: Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

RELATED: Barring public from open council meetings exceeded authority: B.C. Ombudsperson



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Sooke councilWest Shore

Just Posted

Brian Korzenowski rides with Athena, left, and Venus who are safely strapped in and goggled up with the wind in their fur. (Zoe Ducklow - Sooke News Mirror)
Double-dog motorcycle sidecar brings smiles to Sooke Road commuters

Athena and Venus are all teeth and smiles from their Harley-Davidson sidecar

A lift on marine border restrictions by next summer would bring an economic gain to Greater Victoria through the cruise industry. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich calls for opening of marine borders by summer 2022

Council to ask feds to end restrictions in time to allow planning for next cruise ship season

North Saanich is in the process of revising its tree protection bylaw. The proposed changes have drawn much public interest and criticism, as council heard this week during their special meeting on the matter. (Courtesy District of North Saanich)
Revisions to tree protection bylaw in North Saanich face cutting criticism

Councillors to take up issue again in August after staff summarize massive public feedback

(Black Press Media file photo)
School parking problems plague Oak Bay residents

Need exceeds official requirements for parking at St. Michaels school

Camper the dog was found Wednesday night by someone walking their own dog along Hollywood Crescent. She had gone missing after a violent attack on June 11. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Camper the dog found safe after fleeing violent van attack in Victoria

Camper was found on Hollywood Crescent Wednesday night

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Kimberly Bussiere and other laid-off employees of Casino Nanaimo have launched a class-action lawsuit against the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Laid-off Great Canadian Gaming Corp. workers in B.C. launch class-action lawsuit

Notice of civil claim filed on April 6 at Supreme Court of B.C. in Nanaimo

A float plane crashed into the waters near Painters Lodge in Campbell River on Thursday morning. Photo by Alistair Taylor / Campbell River Mirror
Float plane crashes into water near Campbell River

Pilot uninjured, plane hit sandbar while landing

John Kromhoff with some of the many birthday cards he received from ‘pretty near every place in the world’ after the family of the Langley centenarian let it be known that he wasn’t expecting many cards for his 100th birthday. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Cards from all over the world flood in for B.C. man’s 100th birthday

An online invitation by his family produced a flood of cards to mark his 100th birthday

FILE – Nurse Iciar Bercian prepares a shot at a vaccine clinic for the homeless in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, June 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
B.C. scientists to study effectiveness of COVID vaccines in people with HIV

People living with HIV often require higher doses of other vaccines

A 50-year-old woman lost control of her vehicle Tuesday, June 15, crashing through a West Vancouver school fence that surrounds playing children. (West Vancouver Police)
Driver ticketed for speeding near B.C. school crashes into playground fence days later

‘It’s an absolute miracle that nobody was injured,’ says Const. Kevin Goodmurphy

Most Read