Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Village of Masset Working to Provide Call-In Information for Council Meetings

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Village of Masset Working to Provide Call-In Information for Council Meetings

Article excerpt

The Village of Masset council began to discuss reconfiguring their meetings last week to allow members of the public and media to attend remotely, following the release of a B.C. Ombudsperson report that found barring the public from attending “open” council meetings went beyond the minister of public safety’s authority.

According to the agenda for the regular meeting on June 22, council meeting configuration going forward was discussed as a new business item.

Chief administrative officer Trevor Jarvis later told the Observer the Village of Masset council chambers are too small to accommodate more than about seven people.

As such, Jarvis said the village will likely provide call-in information before the next regular meeting on July 13 so that members of the public and media can join remotely.

“We’re going to do our best to comply,” he said of opening the meetings.

ALSO READ: Barring public from open council meetings exceeded authority: B.C. Ombudsperson

Members of the public and media have not had access to Masset council meetings for months, since B.C. first declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 in March.

The Masset municipal office did not provide teleconferencing or online platforms as the villages of Queen Charlotte and Port Clements have done.

Ministerial Order M083 issued by the ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on March 26 stated that even though councils could disallow public attendance at open meetings under the pandemic circumstances, those meetings would not be considered closed.

That ministerial order was rescinded and replaced by a new order on May 1, along with a news release which said that public input is an essential part of decision-making.

“As public input is an essential part of land-use decision-making, even for those decisions that do not require a public hearing, local governments are still expected to find ways to encourage public participation,” stated the release. …

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