In this case, hybrid refers to a mix of in-person and Zoom meetings. Council will meet in Council chambers but will allow individual councillors to attend via Zoom if they cannot attend in person. This decision was made at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting but not before there was considerable debate. Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin first proposed that this format start on November 30 but other Councillors did not see the need to wait. Further, Councillor Nicole Beatty wanted hybrid meetings to also be available for advisory Committee meetings. Although Town Clerk Brent Larmer said that this was possible, it would cause a lot of work to accommodate so this idea was voted down.
Separately, CAO Tracey Vaughan said that the Town was looking at a vaccination policy for employees – presumably mandatory vaccinations? And presumably, all Councillors are fully vaccinated.
The subject of in-person Council meetings was first discussed at the August 23 Council CoW Meeting when it was decided to resume in-person meetings. But at the following regular meeting, Councillors changed their mind – see Links below.
At Monday’s meeting, the motion that was passed about hybrid meetings included the directive that Council Advisory Committees continue with Zoom – this despite Councillors Chorley and Beatty saying that many members were keen to get back to in-person meetings.
Here is the motion that passed (6 to 1 – Suzanne voted against):
WHEREAS at the Committee of the Whole Meeting on August 23, 2021, Council considered a Memo from the Municipal Clerk/Manager of Legislative Services, regarding the options to return to in-person Council Meetings through a Hybrid Electronic Participation Model;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council Meetings return to an in-person format in Cobourg Municipal Council Chambers by
November 30, September 20, 2021 due to concerns about the rising cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant and to give Council time to consider a Vaccination Policy for the Town of Cobourg in the following new format:
THAT Municipal Council allow for the continuation of Electronic Participation by Council Members in combination with the resumption of physical attendance of Members in Council Chambers in order to continue to maintain modernization of Council Meetings as permitted in the Municipal Act, Section 238 s. 3.1 and s. 3.3 in order to allow for Council to continue to legally meet if there may be a reason where a Member is unable to be present in Chambers; and
FURTHER THAT Members of the Public and Delegates/Presenters shall participate electronically through Zoom Video Conference; and
FURTHER THAT Council authorize all Council Advisory Committees to participate through electronic participation utilizing Zoom Video Conferencing for the remainder of the Municipal Council Term or until Council provides further direction to return to in-person meeting.
The motion originally said November 30 but an amendment was passed changing that to September 20.
Note that only Councillors are specified in this latest motion but the original included “the Municipal Clerk and Deputy Clerk and Chief Administrative Officer” but that other staff, members of the public and delegates/presenters would participate via Zoom.
- Council to resume in Person Meetings – 23 August 2021
- Council has second thoughts – 31 August 2021
The information is readily available to see how the COVID-19 vaccinations diminish the severity of the virus, decrease hospitalizations and reduce deaths.
On the idea to require full vaccination of staff or they risk losing their jobs. I have read that being vaccinated would lessen the severity of an infection for most people, but does not halt the risk of spreading the infection to others. And in this day of legislated requirements to accommodate, and efforts at all levels of government towards polices of equity, diversity and inclusion will a municipal entity somewhere be targeted in a legal challenge based on ethics and rights? If an argument is based on action needed in the public good, who should lead? Certainly looks like a collision course ahead despite best intentions.
A thoughtful analysis, MiriamM. A Global Pandemic and States of Emergency might supersede ethics and individual rights.
Cramahe township just passed a mandatory vaccination policy for all town staff and councillors
Certainly hope the Town doesn’t pursue a mandatory vaccine policy – would prefer to see assessments for those who choose not to be vaccinated. Also, I’m not sure why we are presuming Councilors are fully vaccinated…what if they are not? Should they be removed? Should any Town employee be terminated if they are not vaccinated?
I do think the Town can lead by example but I think that example should not include overreach and costly severance packages.
All Tracey said was that they are working on developing a policy. The presumptions are just that and not based on any evidence. As you’ve implied, it’s a touchy subject.
Glad to hear “CAO Tracey Vaughan said that the Town was looking at a vaccination policy for employees – presumably mandatory vaccinations? And presumably, all Councillors are fully vaccinated.”
A chance for the Town to lead by example.