Saanich council will be conducting some meetings electronically amid concerns about COVID-19 spreading. (Black Press Media file photo)

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

Goal is to ‘keep Saanich operating efficiently and safely,’ mayor says

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Saanich council suspended its rules of procedure to allow special council meetings to be conducted electronically.

During the March 16 meeting, councillors discussed contingency plans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aside from closing recreation centres until further notice, council decided it would be best to allow virtual meetings from March 17 to July 1 in an effort to reduce the number of face-to-face encounters at municipal hall, Mayor Fred Haynes said. However, that will only apply to special meetings, Saanich will maintain council and committee of the whole meetings in the chambers.

According to a Twitter post from the District of Saanich on March 17, all public hearings, advisory committees, standing committees, board, foundation and commission meetings are cancelled until further notice.

In the chambers, councillors’ chairs and desks have been separated and other municipal meetings will be moved to larger rooms to allow two metres between each person, Haynes said. He added that only essential business items will be included in meeting agendas to reduce the number of residents and staff required to attend.

This, he explained, will allow the municipality to continue to keep the community safe while still moving forward with Saanich business.

“The key thing to do is to keep Saanich operating efficiently and safely,” Haynes said.

He emphasized that while residents are still allowed to attend meetings, they are encouraged to use other methods of participation. All meetings will continue to be live-streamed for those who choose to participate from home and residents can send emails, mail letters or call councillors with concerns.

Haynes said councillors are making the switch to phone, email and social media meetings to correspond with residents.

Upon advice from federal and provincial governments regarding large gatherings, Haynes said councillors will also not attend the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities conference in April or any other large meetings for the foreseeable future.

Saanich will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation “actively” and take necessary precautions to protect staff and residents, Haynes said.

He stressed that there is no need to panic or stockpile groceries. Haynes hopes residents will observe advice from public health, opt for phone calls to reduce face-to-face meetings and reach out to their neighbours – especially the elderly.

“We need to use our strength as neighbours to help each other out,” he said.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

CoronavirusDistrict of Saanich

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

Just Posted

West Shore woman’s dog found in Colwood more than two weeks after going missing

Isla went missing on March 10 and was found 17 days later

Saanich police ticket two speeders before 9 a.m., Saturday

Officers still actively enforcing road safety amid COVID-19 pandemic

PHOTOS: Painted fence in Langford shows thanks for essential workers amid COVID-19

Community members finding unique ways to show their appreciation

Duncan man asks community to donate RVs to essential workers in need of quarantine

Ryan Oakley creates a Facebook group to help coordinate the effort

Antibody tests could be the next step in fighting COVID-19, Island doctor says

The blood test could show if a person is recovering or has recovered from the virus

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

Most Read