Cumberland council was to hold one of its quarterly village hall meetings at the beginning of June, but it ended up being cancelled due to coronavirus considerations.
These meetings are a chance for residents to bring up matters of concern in a less formal setting than regular council meetings.
“These meetings are where residents can come and sit with members of council and have informal conversations about matters,” corporate officer Rachel Parker said at the May 25 council meeting. “There’s no agenda. It’s a very informal setting.”
Typically, the village hall meetings attract 10 to 15 people each time they are held.
“Village hall meetings are valuable both to council members and the community,” Parker said.
In recent weeks, staff has been working on measures toward holding regular council meetings again, rather than over Zoom, but with a village hall date planned for June 1, there was not sufficient time to finalize details to hold regular in-person council and committee meetings that take into account measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Under the current precautionary situation that we’re still in with COVID-19, we just don’t feel that we’re quite ready to resume in-person meetings,” Parker said.
Staff recommended cancelling the June 1 meeting and work toward holding one as planned in October. A March meeting was also cancelled due to the pandemic.
Members of council expressed some disappointment at the prospect of missing another village hall meeting.
“I think it’s a really important time for us to be connecting with our community, and I just don’t want to lose that,” Coun. Vickey Brown said. “I think there are a myriad of things we could be talking to people about right now, including economic recovery.”
Coun. Jesse Ketler agreed, saying it was important at this time for the Village to get feedback from residents.
“This meeting was planned to be outside anyway,” she said. “It could be set up in a way where physical distancing is still maintained.”
Brown added that she was confident they were creative enough to consider some kind of alternative such as moving the meeting to later date in the summer rather than cancelling it entirely.
Chief administrative officer Clayton Postings said that could probably be arranged once the Village has enough information about how it can safely proceed, something he expects by mid-June. He also said the Village could also look at options like holding a meeting on Zoom.
Mayor Leslie Baird suggested holding a meeting at Village Park as an alternative.
Postings said they need to finalize a WorkSafe BC plan first and keep crowd-size considerations in mind, but he felt a July date for a village hall meeting is feasible.
Council passed a motion to cancel the June meeting with the aim of holding something in July.