Plans for a mayoral byelection in Smithers have been put on hold indefinitely.
At a special meeting earlier today, council rescinded the appointments of the chief electoral officer and deputy chief electoral officer.
Deputy Mayor Gladys Atrill confirmed that the Province strongly recommended the Town cancel the byelection until further notice over concerns about the COVID-19 virus.
Meanwhile the Town Hall will remain open for the time being, Atrill said.
“Everything is viewed day-by-day,” she said. “Certainly we take into account the recommendations of Dr. Henry’s office and we follow. If at any point we were told those public offices had to be closed we would follow suit.”
Acknowledging closing down the office would be a hardship for residents, Atrill noted steps have been taken to ensure the safety of staff and visitors.
“When people go into Town Hall now, they’ll see some differences,” she said. “There’s some physical guidance on the floor to let people know how far social distancing ought to be; there’s a protective barrier for staff so that they’re not in close contact face-to-face with people, so measures are being taken to keep us open.”
Measures have also been taken, to keep council meetings going and open to the public. The council chamber has been rearranged to allow for the recommended two metres of social distancing between councillors, staff, media and members of the public.
Also, limit the number of staff at meetings, CAO Alan Harris will now deliver staff reports for other members of staff.
To limit public attendance, Council is encouraging people to participate remotely using the live streaming Facebook page.
Council also adopted a motion to allow Harris to use the Facebook streaming page to distribute information about COVID-19 from a limited number of sources including Northern Health and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
The Town is also continuing inspections on existing new construction, although they must be booked in advance and will be conducted with only the site supervisor in attendance.
Inspections for existing additions or renovations of occupied premises will be down virtually. Owners/contractors will be asked to provide photos to the building inspector.
The Town is only accepting applications for new construction and commercial projects at this time and are asking homeowners to hold of on addition and renovation projects at this time.