By Andru McCracken
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing all sorts of changes in the way we do business, including local government. Case in point, the Village of McBride had scheduled a large public hearing in advance of its regular council meeting on March 24. The council meeting and the public hearing were cancelled in a special meeting on council on March 19, due to orders given by the Province.
Things continue to evolve and the Province doesn’t just expect municipalities not to meet – they have given municipalities the ability to convene meetings without the public present and some tools for getting important business done.
“These changes will allow necessary local government business to continue while protecting the people in these communities,” said a Public Affairs Officer for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “The expectation is that decisions made in this way will focus on emergency response decisions and time-restricted decisions related to finances.”
Public hearings are possible given the new rules, but the public must be given a chance to be heard, via written and ‘other’ submissions.
Doug Monroe, a developer of Robson Valley Legacies, a proposed seniors complex, is rallying support to hold his public hearing (whatever that may look like) in the near future. Monroe said if the public hearing is delayed too long (New date was June 2nd) his project could be delayed another construction year.
In a special meeting held March 19 the Village chose to reschedule the public hearing until June 2nd, or sooner if the Province provided new legislation.