Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna looking at electronic options for council meetings due to COVID-19

As councillors opt not to attend council meetings, city looking at other options

The City of Kelowna is looking at ways its councillors can attend meetings virtually as the provincial government continues to urge residents’ social distancing.

City councillors attempting to follow the advice given by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to distance yourself from others have run into issues.

“In council chambers, it’s virtually impossible to be six feet apart from your colleagues,” said Coun. Loyal Wooldridge, who did not attend the city’s public hearing on March 17.

City clerk Stephen Fleming said work is underway to give councillors the ability to remotely attend both morning and afternoon council meetings by video and the ability to teleconference in will be available as soon as the next meeting on March 23.

“We have the ability in our procedure bylaw,” Fleming said. “Councillors have participated by telephone previously.”

By coincidence, Fleming said, the city had already begun rolling out a conference system in several rooms at city hall prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. That system will be used for the Monday morning meeting.

Implementing that system for the Monday afternoon meeting, however, will require a bit more work.

“There are no conference capabilities in council chambers,” said Fleming. “We’re going to try to see what we can do by setting up a camera and using that with our existing system.”

Fleming said, unfortunately, the live stream already broadcast on the city’s website would be of no use to councillors looking to participate from home as there is a 37-second delay.

“You can’t be participating and watching the meeting at the same time,” he said.

On Monday, the city will try a new system that will let councillors both see and hear the meeting.

Initiatives are also being worked on for residents’ participation in public hearings. Last week, the city limited the number of seats available to ensure social distancing and extended the availability for residents to submit their comments on issues in written form prior to the meeting so they didn’t have to sit through it.

For public hearings where a larger turnout is expected, Fleming said council will have to decide whether or not it should be deferred to a later date.

READ MORE: Teachers, support workers to return to Central Okanagan schools after spring break

READ MORE: City of Kelowna closes several in-person services, will be offered remotely


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vandalism hits downtown Peachland mural

Reports state this is the third incident in five months

Interior Health confirms five additional cases in West Kelowna COVID-19 outbreak

The total amount of confirmed cases at Bylands Nurseries Ltd. is 19; no further cases expected

Q&A: Interior Health CEO answers questions on COVID-19 response

Susan Brown, president and CEO of Interior Health, answers questions regarding COVID-19

Residents experiencing homelessness back outdoors as temporary winter shelters close

Kelowna’s homeless are going back to Recreation Avenue

COVID-19: Social media use goes up as country stays indoors

Overall messaging is up more than 50 per cent over the last month

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

UPDATE: Coronavirus concerns prompt event cancellations across the Okanagan

This is a running list of events cancelled across the Okanagan

COVID-19: South Okanagan community salutes frontline medical staff

“Honk for the unsung heros. Thanks to each and every one of you”

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

Okanagan College student designs map tracking spread of COVID-19 in B.C.

Sean Heddle says fighting complacency and misinformation is important

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

Summerland’s April 1 snow measurements above normal

Measurements taken at Summerland Reservoir and Isintok Lake

COLUMN: Responding with the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy

Support available for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read