Telkwa struggles with business of governing due to pandemic

Last two regular council meetings have been difficult for both councillors and public to participate

The Village of Telkwa has been struggling to hold regular council meetings during the pandemic.

On March 24 the regularly scheduled meeting was closed to the public to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and abide by social distancing rules but was supposed to be live streamed on to the Village’s Facebook page. However, due to technical difficulties it was not at the last minute. The meeting went ahead without allowing the public to listen in or view it.

Then, for the next meeting on April 14, the Village tried to stream the meeting via a different video conferencing app. It was supposed to start at 7 p.m., but council members had a hard time logging in and it didn’t start until half an hour later. Audio issues plagued the meeting and it was difficult to hear most of it. Mayor Brad Layton was not on the call because he was sick.

Deputy Mayor Annette Morgan chaired the meeting.

“I recognize there are challenges with technology and wifi but at the end of the day it is important that we get the business done and catch up with technology later, but we need to look at different options because this phone system is certainly not working,” she said. “I attend a lot of calls throughout the week by teleconference and I can barely hear a thing that is going on [at this meeting.]”

Councillor Leroy Dekens, who gave up trying to call into the meeting and came down to the council chambers to participate in person, agreed with Morgan and suggested using a large place where social distancing could occur.

In an email to The Interior News later in the week CAO Debbie Joujan said the Village continues to make best efforts at keeping up to date on the ever-changing circumstances and information during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to the difficulties experienced at Tuesday night’s electronic meeting, the Village plans to hold the April 28th Regular Meeting of Council in a larger area of the municipal building in order to accommodate social distancing for Council, staff, and the public. Alternate electronic meeting options will continue to be explored,” she wrote.

The Village office remains closed and there is a drop box setup for documents to be picked up and dropped off. Most staff are currently working at the office during regular business hours but practising social distancing.

The Village bylaw enforcement officer continues in an expanded role (by Ministerial Order) to inform, advise, and/or warn the public if they are congregating, gathering in groups, or otherwise observed to be in violation of social distancing restrictions and/or facility closures within the Village. He will advise the public that they could face steep fines and/or jail time for non-compliance. His role does not include enforcement of restrictions at this time. Enforcement continues to be the responsibility of the RCMP and/or health officers.

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