Summerland’s municipal council is continuing to hold live stream video council meetings as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Initially, the COVID-19 restrictions resulted in the closure of Summerland’s municipal hall and other facilities in the community. This included municipal council meetings, which were earlier held through the Zoom online platform.
The meetings are now being held in Summerland’s municipal hall and are being live-streamed.
There is no time line on how long the pandemic will continue.
Anthony Haddad, chief administrative officer for Summerland, said the present structure and physical distancing requirements would mean only five to 10 members of the public could be present at the council meetings.
However, while the meetings are available online, the sound quality has been a concern.
The audio was difficult to hear during the Aug. 10 afternoon and evening meetings, and similar issues have occurred during earlier meetings as well.
“The audio in council chambers is not picking up as clearly as on Zoom,” Haddad said.
Earlier, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Summerland council meetings were recorded and the video was later made available online. These meetings did not have the sound quality issues that have been present with the live-streamed meetings.
While council is not required to hold live stream meetings, Haddad said the option was chosen in order to allow members of the public to watch and to be able to comment during a meeting.
At one point, council tried using the Zoom platform, even though all members were in the same room. Again, sound issues made this method unworkable.
On July 13, council meetings were held in the Summerland Arena Banquet Room as the solar project was one of the items on the council agenda.
Seating was spaced in the room in order to allow for physical distancing.
Haddad said the municipality would have additional costs if council meetings were to be held in that room on a regular basis.
Summerland council will consider the future of its council meetings. A report on council meeting options will be presented to council at the Aug. 24 meeting.
Summerland mayor Toni Boot said the live-streaming is important in ensuring government transparency. Summerland council and staff have worked to allow people to watch the council meetings as they are happening, and to provide comments to the council.
“We’ve made it as easy as possible for people to weigh in on important matters,” she said.
At the same time, she said the costs of the various broadcast options must be considered. She said the July 13 meetings in the Summerland Arena Banquet Room were expensive to broadcast.
“We can’t really afford to use taxpayer money for that sort of thing, but it’s important to be transparent,” she said.
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