As coronavirus restrictions are being lifted across British Columbia, the city manager for Nelson says it will be up to individual councillors whether they return to council chambers for meetings.
The question about returning to in-person meetings was raised by Coun. Nicole Charlwood during last week’s council meeting.
“I think from staff’s point of view, we’re feeling comfortable that council could come back into chambers if that’s your desire. I think it’s really in your court,” Kevin Cormack said.
Cormack doesn’t believe there are any restrictions that wouldn’t allow councillors to return to the second floor of Ward Street but it would be up to each person based on their own level of risk.
Cormack says they are still trying to limit the number of staff gathering together in places like lunchrooms.
Coun. Rik Logtenberg indicated he was “happy (and) comfortable” meeting face to face.
While he had “personal comfort around it,” Coun. Keith Page thought council was trying to emulate the city policy of not having too many people gathering together. “I would look to us to either follow that lead or set that lead.”
As for city employees gathering in single rooms, the city will wait to see what direction B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry sets. But Cormack said the municipality will be “fairly risk conservative” with allowing staff to gather together.
Cormack added that council is a little different as councils tend to work better together.
Dr. Bonnie Henry is reviewing the remaining coronavirus restrictions. Most of the restrictions have been lifted except for masking and vaccine cards in indoor public spaces.
Council has been meeting in a hybrid partially virtual format since mid-December during the most recent wave of the pandemic.
Coun. Janice Morrison noted the ability to meet virtually is embedded in council’s procedure and not “at the pleasure” of the mayor. “If people have a level of uncomfortness (sic) to not come back into chambers, I think that’s fine.”
Under the city’s procedural by-law, at least two members of council have to be in the chambers during a meeting but the balance can join virtually.