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

Conflict expert explains how to talk to people who aren’t social distancing

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

COVID-19: Managing your mental health from isolation

Ministry of Mental Health, Addictions recommends numerous strategies for self-care during pandemic

Saanich moves forward with summer camp registration despite COVID-19

District to give full refunds if camps are cancelled

Sunday morning fire damages Victoria gas station

The fire on Fairfield Road caused $75,000 in estimated damages to tires and automotive equipment

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Most Read