Council for the Village of Cumberland, like other local governments, has taken to the Internet for meetings as a measure to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Village set up a channel on YouTube to live-stream a meeting held on the platform Zoom for the April 9 meeting, while staff made provisions to take questions from the public through email. Beyond the odd microphone glitch, it ran smoothly. Recently, the Province has made provisions for local governments to look at new ways of holding public meetings during the pandemic.
Mayor Leslie Baird thanked all residents of the Village for complying with orders from the provincial government regarding physical/social distancing. She also thanked Village staff, health care workers and others for helping out during the crisis.
“I know this has caused hardships,” she said. “It is not easy to self-isolate and keep a safe distance from others. Council members have also had difficulties in conducting business for the community.”
Baird explained council has wanted to do more but needs the authority of the Province before it can take many of these measures. She is having regular meetings with the Province to provide information on what is working and what is not.
“They are listening to us,” she said.
The mayor said she knows not every resident has computer access and that council will look at other possible options for staying in touch with residents, and she urged residents to continue efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We cannot get through this alone. We all need to work together,” she said.
Following Baird’s opening remarks, chief administrative officer Clayton Postings updated council on the local COVID-19 response in Cumberland, particularly in terms of adapting to provincial orders. This has covered a number of issues such as playground closures, park access or working with bylaw enforcement around educating the community.
He said the Village has been working to provide up-to-date information, especially from the Province, through the Cumberland website, along with its local government partners through the regional Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).
“It is a lot of information, and things are changing daily, even hourly, in how we’re responding, so we’re working through this as fast as possible while at the same … time trying to maintain our services,” he said. “It certainly has been a challenge, but we really appreciate the community’s patience and willingness to work with us.”
Coun. Vickey Brown raised a question around levels of governance in terms of the response and why, as an example, local playgrounds were not closed sooner.
Postings responded that the EOC’s role is to coordinate efforts between the municipal governments and the Comox Valley Regional District, as well as serve as the contact point with the Province.
“This has been a very unique process, for sure, and one that’s been definitely challenging,” he said, adding, “The Province is really the one that’s giving direction on what activities we’re taking, and we’re determining through the EOC how we can effectively implement those activities.”