Saanich council temporarily suspends open forum as meetings go electronic in light of COVID-19

Residents encouraged to provide input by email

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing recommendations from the provincial health authorities, Saanich council has unanimously agreed to cancel open forum at meetings for the foreseeable future.

During a council meeting on March 23, at the recommendation of Saanich staff and Mayor Fred Haynes, Coun. Karen Harper moved to “suspend the council procedure bylaw in order to cancel open forum until further notice.”

READ ALSO: March 24 world COVID-19 update: Olympics postponed, confusion in Britain

Open forum is the section of council meetings where the public can present on any district-related subject for up to three minutes.

Coun. Nathalie Chambers seconded the motion and Harper then explained that aside from the fact that council will be conducting meetings electronically moving forward, having open forum is a health concern during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Physical distancing is important and this is a part of that,” she said.

All Saanich public hearings, advisory committees, standing committees, board, foundation and commission meetings have also been cancelled until further notice – with the exception of the standing committee on finance and governance.

READ ALSO: Saanich allows some electronic meetings to hinder spread of COVID-19

The Monday evening meeting was the last-in-person meeting until further notice, explained District spokesperson Megan Catalano. She added that moving forward, councillors will participate in meetings by calling in. All meetings will continue to be webcast but with audio only.

Residents will be able to submit comments and feedback on council proceedings prior to meetings by email at council@saanich.ca.


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