Kelowna council

Some members of Kelowna city council participated electronically during a meeting in early May. Such virtual meetings should continue through the summer, municipal staff say. The other option, not being recommended, is to build plexiglass shields between councillor desks so they can all attend in person.

A rotating roster for the electronic participation of Kelowna's "cyber squad" could be in place for at least the next three months.

The idea, to be presented at Monday's meeting, is that half the eight councillors attend the weekly meetings in person until at least Labour Day, with the other four joining online.

The roles would be reversed the following week, with the rotation continuing as long as physical distancing recommendations remain in place.

"With the ongoing restrictions, staff are bringing forward council participation options to continue to meet public health guidelines," city clerk Stephen Fleming writes in a report to council.

The set schedule rotation is one of two ideas for councillors to consider. The other involves the construction of plexiglass shields between councillor desks.

But that's not recommended by Fleming, as the project would require an engineered design and construction at an as-yet unknown cost.

At one of the first council meetings after physical distancing guidelines took effect, several city councillors joined the meeting online. Mayor Colin Basran looked up at the large overhead screens in council chambers that showed the councillors faces, and referred to them as his "cyber squad".

Local municipalities have adapted in different ways to the holding of public meetings in light of the pandemic.

For public hearings, for example, Kelowna has created an agenda with set times for the specific items to be considered. The measure reduces the number of people gathered in the gallery to speak to items, but has made for meetings that last for several hours.

Lake County does not have the ability to hold meetings online, so regular council meetings were cancelled. Some so-called 'special meetings', however, have been held.

West Kelowna and Peachland have also held their meetings online, though members of the public have not been able to attend in-person.