Present and in person

In the beginning when the pandemic hit and everything went virtual, it was questioned whether online council meetings were good for democracy. Now that everything has gone pretty much back to normal a precedent for meeting virtually has been set, along with the expectation [of many] to have this option.

Many companies and organizations still meet virtually – but should councillors have the option? Prior to changes in municipal law brought about by the pandemic, councillors had to be physically present in order to vote and maintain quorum — the number of members necessary for a council meeting to be considered valid (meetings lacking quorum must be suspended). The province has decreed that virtual meetings can continue, with electronic participation counting toward quorum.

What’s the difference?

I don’t think anyone would argue that virtual attendance has the potential to make local decision-making more accessible. However, there’s some kind of chemistry that takes place when you’re in the same room as somebody and you can see their body language and pick up on their inflections.

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