Oshawa Council to re-open to the public April 4 – virtual public participation to still be permitted

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Published March 7, 2022 at 12:33 pm

Oshawa Council meetings will re-open to the public April 4, though virtual participation by public delegates will still be allowed.

Councillor Jane Hurst, who introduced the motion at Monday’s Corporate Services Committee meeting, said the hybrid model “can always be changed down the road” if health restrictions return, but called it a “win-win” because members of the public who cannot attend or choose not to attend “for whatever reason” still have the option of participating electronically. “It’s a win-win for everyone and a progressive way of doing business.”

Councillor Brian Nicholson wanted to ensure that councillors didn’t abuse the new ruling by participating in a public council meeting while in, say, St. Barts, and was able to amend the motion requiring councillors to be in Ontario to be allowed to participate.

A motion to have staff meet the same criteria for electronic participation was defeated. Staff who do participate virtually, council was told, will do so at the discretion of the Chief Administrative Officer.

Cobourg council meetings are already open to the public and Guelph City Council meetings will also return to pre-pandemic protocols later this month. Durham Region and several lower tier Durham municipalities are in the process of opening their meetings to the public as well.

Rosemary McConkey was the first Oshawa councillor to try to re-open council meetings to the public back in December, but her motion was tabled until last month when it was defeated by an 8-3 vote, leading to Hurst’s motion that was on the floor March 7.

The motion will now go to full Council for approval March 28.

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