Town of Qualicum Beach officials said this week that all ‘in-camera’ meetings will remain in person, while public meetings remain virtual.
In-camera meetings deal with sensitive information which, if released, could be harmful to the municipality, read a town press release.
“It is vitally important that the information shared at these meetings be kept confidential until the information is released by council.”
The town says the configuration and size of the council chamber exceeds physical distancing requirements and allows ample space for council to meet in person for in-camera meetings.
The most recent restrictions as ordered by Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, specifically state it “does not restrict formal meetings” and council meetings may continue to operate so long as COVID-19 protocols are followed.
The council made the decision not to conduct confidential meetings electronically, with consideration to the pandemic, and ingrained it within their council procedure bylaw, adopted on Oct. 14
Coun. Robert Filmer has released his own public statement, ‘decrying the ongoing use of in-person meetings.’
“This decision put Qualicum Beach’s elected officials, employees, and the general public at unneeded risk for increased viral infection,” said Filmer in his release.
“We are in an evolving situation with the pandemic. It is patently unwise for council to insist on in person meetings during these deeply uncertain times.”
Filmer believes that business should be conducted remotely to ensure the ‘health and well-being’ of all stakeholders. While the recently adopted procedure bylaw was reviewed and revised, he said it did not take into consideration the ‘deeply unpredictable nature of the pandemic.’
“Even though the newly announced bylaw does not specifically restrict the continuation of formal meetings, the health and well-being of our staff and citizens must come first,” said Filmer.
He said given the remote meeting tools available in 2020, there is ‘no reason’ to expect council to conduct confidential business in person.
His release read that high level virtual discussions are now used by the United Nations, the House of Commons and the Supreme Court of Canada.
— NEWS Staff, submitted