Cranbrook city council passed three readings of a bylaw amendment allowing for electronic meetings, given the physical distancing directives issued by the province in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The council procedure bylaw amendment would permit remote meeting participation by a maximum of two city councillors for regularly scheduled meetings, according to a staff report.
Electronic meetings give flexibility to Council to conduct business using telephone and video conferencing without compromising the rights of the public to access the decision-making process,” reads the staff report. “Electronic participation in meetings provides a valuable tool for councils to conduct essential business when members are unable to attend meetings in-person. The use of electronic meetings is not meant as a substitute for all in-person meetings.”
By provincial law, voting on council matters requires a two-thirds majority of all elected members. With only two council members allowed to participate remotely, the two-thirds majority legislative requirement for voting is preserved, according to the staff report.
There will be a budgetary impact of $2,500 for technology costs during the initial start up, while costs may be ongoing to keep up with technological advances.
The last two council meetings have been carried out to a closed public gallery without any local media in attendance, as staff and councillors work through the practicalities of conducting business while also adhering to the physical distancing directives issued by Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Over the last few months, video recordings of council meetings are typically made available shortly thereafter on the city website, however, there is no public video available for the April 6 or April 27 meetings.