In their discussions, Vanderhoof council has shown an interest in organizing virtual community meetings to discuss pertinent topics with citizens, says Mayor Gerry Thiessen.
Due to COVID regulations, council chambers have been closed for public meetings of council. However, since Dec. 14, video recordings of these meetings have been made available to citizens, a day after the meeting takes place.
The Express received reports of residents questioning council’s transparency during the pandemic, especially on what the process looks like for people looking to ask questions during a public meeting.
Thiessen said residents are encouraged to send questions to Kendra Kinsley, corporate officer and Lori Egli, chief administrative officer. Kinsley and Egli would then hand over those questions to Thiessen, who responds to them during the meeting. Residents can then access a video of the meeting on the district’s website the next day.
The mayor said, virtual community meetings will help engage citizens more on topics like the Official Community Plan 2040 and zoning bylaw regulations. “Those are going to have some significant ramifications in the future as to how we are operating,” Thiessen said.
Housing and environmental stewardship are the two other topics council wants to engage residents on, if they organize a virtual community meeting.
No other information is available around when the meeting will be scheduled, as it is in its nascent stage of discussion.
Meanwhile, Thiessen said he feels things are getting better in terms of the pandemic, after a discussion with Coastal GasLink officials and Dr. Allan Holmes. He said if it continues to get better, council would consider opening chambers for public meetings in the next couple of weeks.
“Certainly there seems to be a kind of anticipation that things are getting better. And I think the combination of what we see happening in other countries, with the infection and rate of hospitalization, deaths have started to drop dramatically for some reason here in the last couple of weeks. And the amount of vaccination getting around as well,” he said.
To send in questions to the district during public meetings of council or apply for a delegation, email Lori Egli at LoriEgli@district.vanderhoof.ca or Kendra Kinsley at email@example.com.