City council will likely continue to meet virtually until at least November.
Council committee made the decision during its meeting Monday evening. It will be up for ratification by council at its meeting Thursday.
The motion also calls for council and council committee meetings to begin at 4 p.m. for the rest of the year.
In supporting the decision, Coun. Ted Emond made note of increasing coronavirus cases in parts of the country.
“The announcement today that COVID-19 cases are surging in Alberta and British Columbia … suggests to me that it is absolutely essential that we continue, as a council, to demonstrate to the citizens of Orillia that the restrictive measures that are in place need to be adhered to,” he said.
Coun. David Campbell echoed that opinion and noted the local health unit is advising councils to continue to meet electronically.
“Throughout this pandemic, we, as a council, and certainly the (economic recovery task force), have been recommending to the citizens of Orillia that they follow the advice of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, and their recommendation is that we, as a council, continue to meet virtually. The right thing to do would be for us to follow that advice …” he said.
There was some concern from Coun. Rob Kloostra about holding budget meetings electronically, and he asked if there would be an opportunity to hold those meetings in person with physical distancing in place.
“Budget is a comprehensive and long and drawn-out process,” Mayor Steve Clarke responded, but added, “We discuss issues of great import at every meeting. If we can do it for those items, we should be able to do it for budget.”
Deputy clerk Megan Williams noted the motion passed Monday states the meeting format will be reviewed in November or December, and changes could be made at that time.
Like Kloostra, Coun. Ralph Cipolla said it would be important to meet in person for budget talks.
“We have lots of space here for us to distance ourselves,” he said. “I think it’s really important that we have the budget meeting person to person.”
Before voting on the motion, Coun. Jay Fallis had a word of warning for his colleagues.
“The heart of budget (meetings) is also likely to be in the heart of flu season,” he said. “I really caution everyone to think about that when we're making those types of plans.”