The District of Hope is looking at a way to hold a “hybrid” style of council meeting to allow people to participate in meetings from home, if desired.
The change is a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as council has been holding meetings virtually but is moving toward in-person meetings with the public in attendance.
Council members and audience members who cannot or do not want to attend in person will be able to do with the addition of Zoom technology. Participants would be able to call log into a meeting if they need to isolate.
District staff will be bringing a more detailed report on costs and other details to the next meeting.
“This is the new way for doing business,” Mayor Peter Robb said during a related discussion on the ins and outs of different kinds of meetings, and the security offered by different options.
There was also a related discussion at the outset of the meeting, when Erica and Christian Ward addressed council as a delegation.
They asked council to consider making the agenda available sooner, prior to meetings. Currently they are posted online on Fridays for the following Monday.
The Wards said that does not give anyone enough notice to appear as delegates and speak to items that may be coming up for discussion or even adoption.
Robb explained the timing to the delegates, saying that he meets with staff on Wednesday, and they go through items and decide what will be on the agenda. That is released to council on Thursday.
Robb said that even though he is a part of the process that decides the agenda, he doesn’t usually see reports until the agenda is released, or even during meetings.
Coun. Scott Medlock said that he agrees it’s a short time frame, and one he has struggled with as well.
The discussion carried over to a decision later in the meeting, where council voted to approve their council procedural bylaw. This caused some heated back and forth discussion with residents during question period. (The recording of the meeting was not audible enough to be heard clearly during some portions.)
This was a special regular meeting, added just a few weeks ago, and was called by the mayor, following the passing of the district’s financial officer, Dale Courtice. He also made comments in the meeting about the loss of Courtice, and how much he is missed and was respected by staff and council.
Robb said that one of the important things Courtice had been working on was the COVID Restart grant applications.
“Some of these applicants are in need of these funds I would like to get them released as soon as possible,” he said.
There were $266,300 in requests and the program was budgeted at $200,000. A few of the requests that were sent in for the funding were lowered to ensure every applicant got something.
Amounts went to the Hope Hospital Auxiliary, the local Scouts, Golden Agers, Fraternal Order of Eagles, District of Hope Ratepayers, Hope and District Arts Gallery, Crime Prevention and Safety Society, Outdoor Learning, Hope and District Chamber of Commerce, Hope Association of Community Living, Purple Lights Committee and Park Street Manor.
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