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Grande Prairie city council to discuss return to in-person meetings

Grande Prairie City Council may soon be meeting in person again. The return to council chambers however won’t come without a few changes to allow for appropriate social distancing measures to be maintained.

Councillor Jackie Clayton says she would like to see council have the necessary discussions to entertain the idea of reconvening in-person— whatever that may look like.

“Administration is comfortable that we can have a council meeting with five members in person and four members calling in with zero cost implications to our budget,” she says.

“We’ve had a brief discussion [with administration] in the past of what it could look like [but] it never got to committee or council level discussion.”

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Clayton feels that council is beginning to lose the impact that comes with face-to-face conversations. She adds if anything, the ongoing electronic meetings are becoming tedious and tiresome as opposed to how they were held before the pandemic.

“I think people are starting to lose interest over Zoom, I think people, to be honest, are tired of Zoom and although it’s what we have to look forward to the future going forward, I think there’s an opportunity— if we can safely and at no cost meet together, then Council needs to have that discussion,” she says.

“With our kids going back to school in September, it’s the perfect time to make this decision.”

Although some members of city council will once again be able to meet in person, delegations and members of the public will still be requested to call in electronically.

Meanwhile, Sexsmith Town Council has already approved the return to in-person meetings. Sexsmith Mayor Kate Potter says with the excitement of returning to near-normalcy, there remain some reservations about the idea with the pandemic still ongoing.

“We approved that we would be meeting in person again starting on our September 8th council meeting. I think we’re excited, though there is always some hesitancy there, especially given the current situation and some of the concerns that go with that,” she says.

“When we are together, it gives the opportunity for the public to interact easier with the council, coming in person rather than [over] Zoom or otherwise electronically.”

Potter adds Sexsmith town council is looking at meeting either in the town Community Centre or in the Elk and Legion room in the Civic Centre.

The discussion regarding the return to in-person meetings for Grande Prairie’s City Council will hit the table on Monday, August 24.

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