Cranbrook City Hall. Townsman file photo.

Council adopts bylaw enabling remote participation at meetings

City council has adopted a bylaw that will allow up to two elected officials to participate in meetings electronically — a policy created in response to physical distancing directives due to COVID-19.

Mayor and council continue to meet in council chambers, however, staff have begun attending remotely through video conferencing technology. Now, with the adoption of a new procedure, up to two councillors will be able to attend remotely as well.

Additionally, for the last three council meetings, local media and the public have been barred from attending due to the restrictions advised by top provincial health officials. Video of council discussion and debates between council and staff over all agenda items from the last three meetings also hasn’t been released.

The new procedures bylaw was necessary to allow for electronic participation with a $2,500 estimate for initial start up costs to get the necessary technology in place, 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 report.

The report also notes that council participating electronically and without public or media present was enabled by a provincial order issued by Mike Farnworth, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, which was issued on March 26.

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