Policy sets precedents for e-Town Hall

NANAIMO – The city will give two weeks advance notice when it sets up an e-Hall meeting on a community issue.

The City of Nanaimo has a new policy for e-Town Hall meetings.

Nanaimo city council agreed to a new procedure that will act as a “starting point” for e-Hall events.

The live discussion technology was rolled out for the first time in 2013, becoming the second forum of its kind in the province. Council has used it twice so far, including to gauge public support for a proposed partnership agreement for a passenger ferry service. Residents’ questions and comments are streamed to a live council meeting via social media, phone and webform.

There has been concern, however, about how much notice should be given for the public events and what topics are appropriate for the forum. The new policy is meant to address those issues, setting out a two-week advance notice timeline and giving jurisdiction over the e-Hall topics to the city.

Coun. Bill Bestwick sought an amendment that would have seen e-Hall meetings held quarterly without set topics and possibly on weekends, but it was defeated. Council members wanted the flexibility to respond quickly to hot topics and have more than four annual meetings.