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COVID-19: Qualicum Beach council not quite ready to return to in-person meetings

Councillor seeks guidelines from public health officer
(PQB News file photo)

Qualicum Beach council members have discussed the possibility of returning to in-person meetings but the decision remains up in the air.

At its regular council meeting on Nov. 17, Coun. Scott Harrison indicated other municipalities, including the City of Parksville, have already revived in-person meetings. But Harrison has some reservations. Before the town could follow suit, Harrison wants to know what is scientifically the best way to make sure everyone will be safe.

Harrison suggested council meetings return to an in-person format when the percentage of the population in Qualicum Beach with at least two vaccine shots exceeds 90 per cent. But council deferred it until they get more information from the public health officer.

“We’re deemed an essential service so we cannot screen people if they’re unvaccinated from attending the meetings,” Harrison said. “The intent here is to just start a conversation which honestly I think there should be maybe a letter to the public health officer saying ‘what do you recommend as a threshold where we could start doing in-person meetings again?’”

Harrison said the last time they held a Zoom meeting inside council chambers didn’t work out well as there was an echo.

“Whatever we do as a council, it should either be one or the other,” said Harrison. “I think if we have this hybrid it would be very hard for people to hear us in council chambers when we’re doing a Zoom meeting.”

READ MORE: 40 members of public allowed to attend Parksville city council meetings

Coun. Anne Skipsey supported Harrison’s views.

“Trying to do both at the same time present some challenges,” said Skipsey. “I had supported continuing on with this kind of hybrid until the mask mandate was removed. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Also I’m not sure putting a threshold is the best idea because we may never reached that threshold.”

Mayor Brian Wiese said council should hold the threshold at 90 per cent of the community has been double vaccinated.

Harrison pointed out that he believes at this time, Qualicum Beach is at 88 per cent. He suggested before they make a decision that they solicit a guideline from the public health officer for the best practices for local governments.

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Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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