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County Council passes bylaw amendment to permit online meetings during an emergency

by Sylene Argent Last Thursday, a Special Meeting of Essex County Council was held, via online videoconferencing, where the decision-makers for the seven local municipalities voted in favour of allowing County Council members to participate in meetings electronically. This will occur when an emergency, under section 4 or 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, has been declared.   The decision was made by County Council adopt amendments to its Procedure Bylaw #41-2018, which governs the order and proceedings of County Council. The notice requirement was also waived for the purpose of this resolution, due to the COVID-19 emergency.   The motion carried unanimously.   This was the first meeting Essex County Council conducted online. The meeting was live streamed through its website.   Mary Birch, Director of Council and Community Services/Clerk, said there was an amendment to the Municipal Act the week prior, which allows for electronic participation in a meeting for a municipality that has declared an emergency.   County Council declared an emergency in regards to the Coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, March 22.   Meeting remotely, Birch said, is an effort to keep Council members safe. These meetings are still required to be available to the public for viewing.   Essex County Warden, and Mayor of Tecumseh, Gary McNamara, said with the amendment to the Procedural Bylaw, County Council will be able to hold meetings virtually, until further notice.   He thanked everyone for participating in the meeting and urged everyone to stay safe and to take care of each other.   Essex Mayor Larry Snively, on behalf of County Council, thanked the staff members for everything they have done in dealing with the pandemic.   “Absolutely,” McNamara said. “We are all in this together.”   There will be a regular meeting of Essex County Council on Wednesday, April 1, at 7:00 pm. This meeting will take place with members of County Council joining via web-conference. The live stream link is https://video.isilive.ca/countyofessex/live.html 

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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