Lantzville councillors consider electronic meetings in special circumstances

NANAIMO – Councillors to consider holding meetings electronically in specific situations.

Lantzville councillors discussed the possibility of having electronic meetings in special situations.

During a committee of the whole meeting on Monday, Lantzville councillors continued to pore through aspects of their procedure bylaw, which they are currently updating.

Discussion focused mainly around of the potential to permit councillors to participate in council meetings electronically and electronic meetings in general. There was also discussion around allowing special or emergency meetings to be held electronically.

According to the B.C.’s Community Charter, municipalities are allowed to conduct special council meetings through telephone and video conferencing if they so chose.Coun. Dot Neary said she was “conflicted” about the idea of electronic meetings, adding that the technology can fail and cause more problems.

“Certainly in my experience, I’ve sat in meetings where members of the assembly have called because they are away and they want to take part in the meeting and it can be problematic because depending on where you are, calls get dropped, connections get severed, and basically once that has happened that person has just left the room and it is difficult for the individual, sometimes, on their end to follow what’s going on,” Neary said.

Coun. Bob Colclough said electronic meetings should be done only if there is quorum and that it should be limited to one councillor participating electronically, adding that they can be difficult for all parties.

“Somebody could be talking and drop off and then you’re hooped. I’ve been in meetings where people have participated electronically and it has worked reasonably well; if there is more than one [person] it gets way more complicated,” he said.

In the end, councillors asked staff to include wording in the procedure bylaw that would allow electronic participation in limited situations, such as during special meetings, open portion only, emergency meetings and when a quorum not is reached.

No decision on the matter has been made yet and Lantzville council would still need to formally vote on any change in policy.