Anyone hoping to speak directly to Whitehorse city council at its weekly meeting will now be able to do so.
Or they can choose to continue providing written submissions that will be read into the record at the meeting.
Whitehorse city council voted Feb. 8 to changes that will allow registered delegates to call into the meetings to give their presentation or have the option of providing a written submission that will be read into the record.
The changes come under the temporary meeting practices that were established in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Under those provisions, council meetings have been closed to the general public. To continue allowing for delegations and presentations at public hearing and input opportunities, city staff have read written submissions at the meetings.
At the same time, efforts were also underway by city staff to look at ways for presentations to be made more directly to city council virtually after council requested officials look at the possibilities, with staff eventually proposing the GotoMeeting audio platform be used for the call-in option as it allows for a moderator to be in place.
The changes originally proposed to council would have seen the city move entirely to the call-in format, but at the Feb. 8 meeting members voiced their support for continuing to allow written submissions that will be read aloud. Council’s discussion on the matter echoed sentiments expressed by council at an earlier meeting when the issue was discussed.
As Coun. Samson Hartland noted, his main concern around not allowing written submissions is in potentially leaving out part of the community that may not be able to use a phone for a variety of reasons.
Other councillors reflected on the changes that have had to be made for the pandemic, with Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu noting how it moved many changes into “fast forward”.
She commented that providing both a call-in and written option for delegate submissions may help encourage more engagement by those who may otherwise not be able to call-in at a specific time.
Before council voted in favor of the amendment to allow both written and call-in options, Coun. Dan Boyd clarified with administration that the same timelines will apply to both those providing written submissions and those calling in.
Delegates must either register or provide their written submissions to the city by noon on the day of the council meeting. Those wanting to speak directly to council via the call-in option will need to phone by 5:20 p.m., 10 minutes ahead of the start of the meeting.
Along with allowing delegates to address council via the GotoMeeting platform or by written submission, other changes were also approved to the temporary meeting practices to reflect that all members of council may be present and physically distant in council chambers or may participate by teleconference.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the mayor or presiding council member for the meeting attended while other council members phoned into the meeting.
That remained in place until changes were made inside council chambers to ensure distance between members.
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