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City considers continuing electronic meeting option

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 12:57 PDT, Mon July 19, 2021

Last Updated: 12:58 PDT, Mon July 19, 2021

At today’s general purposes committee meeting, Richmond councillors will consider amending a bylaw that will enable them to continue attending meetings online.

Municipalities have had the authority to conduct meetings electronically during the province’s state of emergency, which expired at the end of June. While an update to provincial legislation is likely to allow cities to have electronic meetings in non-emergency times going forward, this will likely not be finalized until the end of September.

City council has been meeting electronically for about 16 months. Speaking to the Richmond Sentinel in May 2020, Mayor Malcolm Brodie said council was “still able to get through the business fairly efficiently.”

At that time, several councillors were in favour of continuing to allow electronic attendance in some situations, such as when a councillor feels unwell. 

“Going forward, there will be opportunities for councillors or staff who are not feeling 100 per cent to give input. People who are immunocompromised would still be able to participate in a way that’s safe for their health,” said Coun. Linda McPhail.

To ensure Richmond council members can continue participating electronically, city staff is recommending a bylaw that would allow council members “to continue to participate by means of electronic or other communication facilities in regular circumstances when they are unable to attend meetings in person.”

The report says additional amendments to council bylaws, which would allow for electronic meetings and electronic public participation generally, are anticipated in the fall following provincial legislation amendments.

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