City Hall continues some in-person meetings, but should they?
LONDON, ONT -- A small number of in-person meetings continue to take place at City Hall, and while distancing measures are in place, some are asking if in-person meetings are necessary at all.
The new normal is anything but normal at London City Hall as four members of council and eight staff members spread throughout council chambers while 11 councillors participate by video conference.
The precautions are enough to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission that Mayor Ed Holder says meetings in council chambers will continue.
“As long as we have direction from the medical officer of health and the premier’s office, then from my standpoint as long as it’s safe to do so we’ll carry on this way,” says Holder.
However, this week public health officials have throttled up their messaging saying people are instructed to say at home unless it’s essential to go out.
“Carrying on the business of government is essential, but the question becomes, at what point does it make sense to go totally virtual,” Holder says.
Some other local governments have already moved their meetings 100 per cent online, including Middlesex County council.
On Monday, CTV News spotted several municipal employees and the deputy mayor entering London’s Emergency Operations Centre in Byron for a meeting.
City Manager Lynne Livingstone says most participants joined the meeting by video conference.
“We are down to a very minimum number of people who are in that place,” she adds.
She says that includes herself and London’s emergency management team who regularly work in the building.
However, Sarnia’s equivalent group has been meeting remotely for three weeks.
Livingstone says the London team is taking precautions within its centre and across the organization.
“We practice the same health and safety acts that are required. So we are cleaning, there is distancing, there are physical health assessments coming into the discussion.”
City council's next meeting is scheduled for April 7 in council chambers.