(PQB file photo)

(PQB file photo)

Qualicum Beach officials reply to assertions council operates in a ‘Zoom cocoon’

Town indicates operations altered due to COVID-19 pandemic

The Town of Qualicum Beach has issued a response, following concerns of representatives of local community groups, who recently wrote an open letter addressed to council regarding the lack of opportunities for residents to have their voices heard.

“The town appreciated the letter and has taken the time to provide their answers to a number of concerns raised by the group,” read a release issued on Friday, Feb. 12.

The letter noted the lack of committee of the whole meetings where dialogue and discussions are allowed since February 2020. There have been no mayor’s open houses and the reduction of allotted time for a delegation to council from 10 minutes to five minutes was questioned by the group.

“It is not mandated, nor traditional, for public input to be part of committee of the whole proceedings,” the town stated. “However, the Town of Qualicum Beach has, and continues to encourage, public dialogue during our committee of the whole meetings. The reason why the town has not had a committee of the whole meeting in the last year is due to impacts of COVID-19, as well as there being no topics brought forward by council for discussion.”

READ MORE:Grassroots community groups say Qualicum Beach council operates in a “Zoom cocoon”

The next scheduled COW meeting is March 24.

As for the mayor’s open houses, the town stated it altered the way they all do business due to COVID-19.

“Given our demographic, and the provincial health orders that have been in effect since early 2020, the town did not feel it was safe to continue to host in-person open houses,” the town said. “In a large way, we have acclimated to this ‘new normal’, but it’s important to remember that a large portion of 2020 was spent trying to adapt to new methods of communication, and many of our residents are still learning to navigate this new technological world. We recently successfully held a large public hearing, and while we did hear from some speakers that do not feel Zoom is an effective tool for communication, we are excited to start utilizing the technology available for more outreach. The town is expecting to begin hosting virtual open houses in March, 2021, more details on the format to be announced shortly.”

To read more of the town’s reply to the open letter: https://qualicumbeach.civicweb.net/document/8563

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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