Although COVID-19 is changing the way the City of Fernie operates, they are indeed still operating.
On March 29, the city announced they are considering adopting a bylaw that would make several key changes to how City of Fernie proceedings are governed. Council procedure bylaw no. 2396, 2020 would amend the provisions for electronic meetings and participation of council members.
The adoption of this bylaw would better allow the Fernie mayor and council to deliberate in accordance with social distancing rules by increasing the use of electronic communications in council meetings. According to the City of Fernie website, the proposed bylaw would include three main changes.
“Council members will be able to participate through electronic communications in a closed meeting, the limitation of the number of council members participating in a meeting is removed, and in the event quorum is lost at a council meeting due to loss of electronic communication links, the meeting will adjourn and reconvene as soon as possible once quorum can be achieved and public notice requirements met or at the next meeting,” read documents on the City of Fernie website.
More news came on March 31 from the city, with the announcement of an unsuccessful grant application for funding for the construction of a new multi purpose community centre.
In fall of 2018, federal and provincial funding was announced to support community, recreation and culture infrastructure in rural communities across Canada. The City of Fernie applied for funding through two different programs and recently received word that the funding was denied. If things had gone as planned, the funding would have covered between 75 and 90 per cent of the costs associated with the construction of the new multi purpose community centre.
“Given the unsuccessful applications and the current COVID-19 situation, the city has determined it is not the appropriate time to pursue borrowing or to engage with the public on reviewing the multi purpose community centre project,” said a post on the City of Fernie website.
After the COVID-19 emergency has passed and the city has recovered from the pandemic, city staff intend to provide council with options on re-engaging the public with regards to the project. However, for now, the project will remain on hold.
City council continues to hold regular council meetings, although under the power of a ministerial order, council meetings will now be closed to the public until the end of COVID-19. That being said, council meetings will continue to be live streamed on the City of Fernie’s website.