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

Saanich public input, hearings resume using phone-in model

Saanich council returns to Municipal Hall May 25 without public present

Saanich council is set to return to Municipal Hall on May 25 and public input will resume but for now, it will be by phone.

In an effort to avoid exposure to COVID-19, councillors attended their last in-person meeting on March 23 before agreeing to move to a conference call format and to temporarily suspend public input.

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

Council meetings continued to take place electronically as Mayor Fred Haynes emphasized the importance of keeping Saanich “operating efficiently and safely.” Residents were invited to tune in to meetings via livestream though only audio could be accessed as meetings outside the chambers couldn’t be filmed.

On Monday at 7 p.m., council will once again be conducting business in the council chambers but residents still won’t be present. Instead, those hoping to participate in the public input portion of the meeting will have to do so by phone using a call-in system, Haynes explained, adding that it’s the same system used by the province when conducting weekly updates with B.C. mayors.

“It’s very difficult to get the public into Municipal Hall with the current conditions,” he said. “It will be safer to phone in.”

READ ALSO: Saanich looks at moving to electronic public hearings in June

Anyone wishing to speak during the meeting is asked to register by email at council@saanich.ca or by phone at 250-475-5501 before noon on Monday. Staff will take down the resident’s name, address and date of the meeting they plan to speak at, said Megan Catalano, spokesperson for the District.

Those who plan to speak are asked to tune in to the livestream for information about when to call-in, Catalano explained. She added that specific instructions for participation will be sent to the registered participants by email.

Residents can also still submit public input by email or mail until noon on the day of the meeting.

Public hearings will also be resuming on June 2, Haynes said. Residents will use the same call-in method to share their thoughts on three different zoning bylaw amendment requests.


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