GN council to hold in-person meetings in Selby starting in October

Selby Community Hall. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Adam Prudhomme

Starting in October, Greater Napanee council will return to in-person meetings at the Selby Community Hall.

That was one of the decisions to come out of the Aug. 25 special meeting, which was conducted via Zoom and streamed on the town’s YouTube page.

It was also decided that in the meantime the two scheduled meetings for Sept. 8 and 22 will be conducted virtually on Zoom and broadcast on the town’s YouTube page, as has been the case for much of the COVID-19 state of emergency. Town staff would require the month of September to prepare Selby to be able to live-stream meetings going forward.

By opting for virtual meetings for September, that meant the town’s state of emergency by-law would automatically stay in place until at least Sept. 8, when council is scheduled to meet next and they could once again look at the by-law.

The bulk of the Aug. 25 special meeting, which lasted a little over an hour, was spent on council debating six possible options for in-person meetings going forward. They included continuing to meet on Zoom, meeting in-person at South Fred, SPC Goodyear Rink, SPC Banquet Hall or Selby.

Of those options, only the SPC Banquet Hall and Selby provided the means to live stream the meeting to the public. The others would involve recording the meetings and then uploading them to the town’s YouTube channel 48 hours after the meeting.

“I think the live streaming should be a priority for us,” said Greater Napanee Deputy Mayor Max Kaiser. “The posting after the fact solves a lot of it too, but 48 hours later everyone already knows what happened at council. I think the live streaming, for me, that’s a key point. I’d rather see it live. If we can do it live from wherever, that’s kind of a key one for me.”

Another benefit of Selby is the fact town staff could set it up for council meetings and leave it in place, as the hall has no other tenants at this time. The SPC would require set up and tear down after every meeting.

Councillor John McCormack felt the SPC would make for the best choice as it offers a centralized location.

“If I had to choose between (options) five (the SPC) and six (Selby), I’m going to push for number five,” said McCormack. “It’s central to all the residents of Greater Napanee. We’re in the middle of August, think about January, February and March and the middle of winter and so on, accessibility for a lot of people. Also being attached to the rink, there’s a lot of indoor space for people.”

McCormack acknowledged the SPC is rented more than Selby, but still felt the arena’s banquet hall was the best location.

Councillor Dave Pinnell Jr. put forward the motion to select Selby, with every member of council except councillors McCormack and Terry Richardson voting in favour.

Selecting Selby means council would be able to host delegations in the kitchen area with plexi glass separation and have council in the hall. Members of the public who attend the meetings would require masks. Selby also includes a viewing area for five to 15 people.

Mayor Marg Isbester said there’s no timeline included in the motion, saying they will meet in Selby from “October through until whenever where’s forced back into Zoom or the world becomes a better place.”

Council also voted to consider an amendment to a by-law that would allow a member of council, a committee or a local board to participate electronically in a meeting that is open or closed to the public. That discussion will take place at the Sept. 8 special meeting, which begins at 6 p.m.

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