Saanich councillors Zac de Vries, Judy Brownoff, Colin Plant, Nathalie Chambers and Ned Taylor (back row, left to right); Coun. Karen Harper, Coun. Susan Brice, Mayor Fred Haynes, and Coun. Rebecca Mersereau (front row, left to right). (Photo courtesy the District of Saanich)

Saanich councillors Zac de Vries, Judy Brownoff, Colin Plant, Nathalie Chambers and Ned Taylor (back row, left to right); Coun. Karen Harper, Coun. Susan Brice, Mayor Fred Haynes, and Coun. Rebecca Mersereau (front row, left to right). (Photo courtesy the District of Saanich)

Saanich extends public-free council meetings into spring

District to look at options for resuming open forums virtually, video participation for meetings

Saanich council will continue to hold public-free meetings until the end of April due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but staff have been directed to look at options for resuming open forums virtually.

Council unanimously agreed to continue conducting meetings without the public present which is permitted under a ministerial order that stipulates municipalities must provide other means of public engagement and, at the time, Saanich allowed the public to participate by phone and watch meetings via livestream.

Council adopted the order in June, renewed it in November and on Jan. 25 renewed it a second time – putting the format in place until April 30.

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

Coun. Susan Brice, who made the motion, said while council has heard that residents miss being able to address councillors in person, it’s “not where we are from a public health point of view and these regulations have to be extended.”

In a subsequent motion, Coun. Colin Plant asked council to direct staff to look at the possibility of bringing back open forums – which were suspended due to the pandemic in March 2020 – with virtual adaptations to increase opportunities for public input safely.

“I think it is something that has been noticeably absent,” he said, adding that with the current technology, residents could choose to phone in and share their concerns, present a video or just continue to write in.

READ ALSO: Saanich approves 97-unit seniors’ affordable housing complex for second time

That motion passed 5-4 with Couns. Karen Harper and Zac de Vries, Brice and Mayor Fred Haynes opposed.

The following morning, on behalf of council, Haynes wrote to the various community associations and the Saanich Community Association Network to explain and thanked them for their patience and for “remaining engaged” despite the challenges. In 2020, residents submitted nearly 6,200 pieces of written correspondence compared to just over 4,200 in 2019, and the phone-in option for public input has been utilized, Haynes said.

He added that while it’s clear the public has not stopped engaging, the district is working to upgrade its technology with the goal of permitting the public to participate in meetings by video.


@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

One person is dead after a camper van caught fire Thursday morning in Victoria's Beacon Hill Park. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
UPDATED: One person dead after vehicle fire in Beacon Hill Park

Investigation into Victoria death in early stages

Darcy Rhodes (left) says his grandfather’s bonsai trees are his ‘babies.’ (Courtesy of Tamara Bond)
Victoria police are searching for a federal offender who is wanted Canada-wide after his statutory release was suspended. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police searching for federal offender wanted Canada-wide

Warrant issued after offender’s statutory release suspended

Protestors against old growth logging gather in front of the courthouse in Victoria on Thursday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fairy Creek protesters gather at Victoria courthouse

Logging company seeks injunction to remove blockades near its Port Renfrew operation

Walkers ascend Mount Douglas Park on Sunday, Feb. 7. Visits to Saanich Parks are up 46 per cent compared to pre-pandemic statistics this time last year. (Darrell Wick Photo)
Oak Bay, Saanich parks peak in popularity during pandemic

Oak Bay spent an extra $5,000 on park toilet paper in 2020

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit small B.C. towns and beyond

Canadians find their butter was getting harder, blame palm oil in part one of this series

Construction takes place on Bamfield Main in early February 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY CTV NEWS)
Ongoing Bamfield roadwork unrelated to planned $30M fix

Construction by Mosaic unrelated to $30M upgrade ordered in wake of fatal bus crash

The Regional District of Nanaimo’s board is forwarding a motion on illegal dumping to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities’ upcoming annual general meeting. (Kane Blake photo)
Island communities asked to join forces in seeking help fighting illegal dumping

RDN resolution to be forwarded to Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities

Most Read