Motion to open Oshawa Council meetings to public tabled until 2022

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Published December 13, 2021 at 4:17 pm

A motion to open Oshawa Council meetings up to the public using a hybrid in-person/electronic model was put off until the new year Monday morning because of the uncertainty of the Omicron variant and the rising COVID-19 cases in Oshawa and Durham Region.

Councillor Derek Giberson said it was “premature” to consider opening meetings to the public because of the ongoing pandemic. “Right now, we need to stay in a holding pattern and see how things stand in February.”

COVID-19 cases have been on the rise in the past couple of weeks with 190 new cases reported in Durham Region over the last three days, with 59 of those cases coming from Oshawa residents.

The motion on the floor at Monday’s Council meeting to use a hybrid public/Zoom-style model arose after a public information meeting in late October to discuss future development in the hamlet of Columbus that had to be rescheduled because of technical glitches.

That meeting still needs to be re-scheduled and will likely be held early in the new year, though Council has not decided on its format.

The motion to table the debate to a future meeting was approved 7-4, with Councillor Bradley Marks noting there is “nobody on staff to advise us” on the potential dangers of opening meetings to the public as the Medical Officer of Health works for Durham Region, not the City of Oshawa.

“I fear if we adopt this hybrid model we may alienate some who want in the chamber if we have to pull the plug on this,” he said.

A related motion to get powerpoint slides and other pertinent information out earlier so the public and councillors can have enough time to prepare for council meetings was approved.

 

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