View Royal council has voted to remove a limit on the number of meetings its members may attend virtually.
During a meeting Tuesday (Dec. 6), council revisited the issue of whether there should be a limit on how often members attend meetings virtually. There was a bylaw amendment adopted in October 2021 introducing a limit of three virtual meeting appearances for each councillor, with exceptions allowed for situations like surgeries or special council meetings.
Coun. Don Brown pushed the motion to remove the restriction. Staff produced a report for council revealed at Tuesday’s meeting, which ultimately made the recommendation council retain the limit, as it would be a useful tool to encourage in-person attendance, while not unduly restricting council participation.
In the year since the limit was adopted, it had not been enforced strictly, the staff report said.
“There is a lot to be considered regarding remote work opportunities, and I enjoyed the discussion around the limits on electronic participation in council,” said Mayor Sid Tobias Wednesday. “My perspective on it is in the spirit of having a resilient governance model, it’s better to leave it open and maybe instead of having it as a bylaw, capture the expectation to be present during council meetings with a code of conduct.”
Tobias said all of council agreed it is better to participate in meetings in person, so the question really came down to whether or not there was a need to set a limit on virtual participation in order to encourage in-person attendance.
Though the vote was split, ultimately the decision was made to amend the existing bylaw, removing the three virtual attendances per calendar limit.
Tobias said the issue of virtual attendance for councillors is likely to continue to be on council’s mind moving forward as the need for it continues to evolve.
An informal requirement for any council member wishing to attend a meeting virtually to alert Tobias and staff in advance was agreed upon.