Electronic public hearings allowed during pandemic

The Province has issued a ministerial order that allows local governments to hold public hearings electronically during the current provincial state of emergency. Each local government will need to determine which electronic method works best for its public hearings. This decision to expand the authorities given to local governments under the Emergency Program Act was enacted by the Province repealing and replacing Ministerial Order M083 with M139.

At the time of public notice, the local government will be expected to provide information on how people can participate in the hearing. Options local governments may consider include conference calls and video conferencing. Local governments will also continue to be required to accept written submissions for public hearings, whether in-person or electronic.

The new order gives the Islands Trust the authority to hold meetings electronically without in-person public participation, allows for bylaws to be read and adopted in a single day and allows the use of electronic options for its public hearings.

In addition, the order authorizes improvement districts to hold trustee board meetings electronically to make financial decisions for their community and allows them to postpone their annual general meetings and elections until COVID-19 is no longer a public health threat.

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