Vernon council meetings have now gone strictly virtual following the latest provincial health orders aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Vernon council meetings have now gone strictly virtual following the latest provincial health orders aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

COVID-19 closes Vernon council meetings to public

Like everything else in the world, municipal government is only accessible online

Like everything else, municipal governance is going strictly virtual.

The City of Vernon council meetings and public hearings are now closed to the public (including the media). The change follows the extension of in-person and community-based gathering across B.C., announced by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry Dec. 7. The intention is to help significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19.

READ MORE: Events, gatherings banned through Christmas, New Years in B.C. with no COVID reprieve in sight

“In accordance with this province-wide directive, the City of Vernon is reminding the public about opportunities to view council meetings electronically and how individuals may continue to participate in upcoming public hearings, through written submissions,” the city said in a Dec. 8 press release.

The city video records all open council meetings and public hearings and makes them available at vernon.ca.

The Dec. 14 council meeting and public hearing will be available by noon on Dec. 15.

During the hearing, city staff will make presentations on the applications before council. All written submissions received by the corporate officer by 3 p.m. that day will be read into the record and posted on vernon.ca/publichearings. Council will then recess the meeting until Jan. 11, 2021.

“In response to the health order, the city has temporarily extended the public hearing process to provide an opportunity for individuals to view the meeting online, view the written submissions regarding the applications, and provide additional written comment prior to the Jan. 11 meeting.”

Written comments must be received by the corporate officer by 3 p.m. Jan. 7, 2021, they can be emailed to phearings@vernon.ca.

The city will continue this process until the PHO rescinds or amends the order to allow in-person attendance at public hearings again.

READ MORE: Interior Health reports 203 new COVID-19 cases; two more deaths


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