If you haven’t been to a public meeting a while, you’re going to notice some differences.
Public meetings continue to evolve as municipalities continue to re-flatten the COVID-19 curve. According to a recent notice from Harrison Hot SPrings, effective August 7 under the order of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on gatherings and events, local governments are now required to collect first and last names and telephone numbers or email addresses of every person who attends local government meetings or public hearings in-person. According to Harrison Hot Springs deputy CAO Debra Key, the contact information and names are collected to improve contact tracing in the event COVID-19 cases appear locally.
The Agassiz-Harrison municipalities have adapted their meeting spaces according to COVID-19 regulations. For example, each space allows for six feet between all attendees and officials present at each meeting as well as a limited capacity.
Harrison Hot Springs moved their public meetings to Memorial Hall to allow for more members of the public to attend; the Village Hall’s setup simply wasn’t large enough to accommodate many safely. Back in May, the village council successfully posted a meeting on YouTube while they still met at Village Hall.
The District of Kent hosts public meetings online through Microsoft Teams. These public meetings – which, as of recent meetings, cover zoning issues that require public hearings – are held prior to the regular council meeting, which is not presently broadcasted. However, the District of Kent issues a newsletter of council meeting highlights called Council’s Corner the next day or two following the most recent council meeting.
Those who attend local public meetings are asked not to move the seating from their assigned spots in order to maintain physical distancing. Members of the public are further asked not to congregate in lobby areas following public meetings, but rather exit the building safely and immediately following adjournment.
As always, if members of the public are not feeling well, they are asked to stay home.
The next Harrison Hot Springs council meeting is scheduled for September 8 at 7 p.m. at Memorial Hall. The next District of Kent Council meeting is set for September 14 at 7 p.m. at Municipal Hall.