Electronic Local Government Meetings
Electronic meetings give flexibility to municipal councils and regional district boards to conduct business using telephone and video conferencing without compromising the rights of the public to access the decision-making process.
Municipal council, regional district board and committee members may participate in electronic council, board, committee or special meetings using these technologies when they are unable to attend meetings in-person. The local government procedure bylaw must authorize the use of electronic meetings and the local government must also follow the legislated rules.
Electronic Meeting Requirements
Councils and boards are required to:
- Include the process for electronic meetings in the local government procedure bylaw
- Provide notice of electronic meetings
- Provide the appropriate facilities and equipment to give the public the opportunity to hear, or watch and hear, the participation of council or board members
In certain circumstances, electronic meetings provide a valuable tool for councils and boards--they are not meant as a substitute for all in-person meetings.
Electronic Participation by a Member
Usually, the schedules for regular municipal council and regional district board meetings, standing committee meetings and select committee meetings are set well in advance. Sometimes members are unable to attend a regular meeting, committee or special meeting in person. When the individual’s (including non-council or board members sitting on council or board committees) attendance is critical, electronic participation may be helpful.
Logistics & Costs
The logistics and associated costs of electronic meetings are an important consideration for local governments. Access to different forms of technology may impact the local government's ability to allow members to participate electronically. The council or board must also consider who pays for the costs associated with electronic participation. It must also consider what back-up plans to put in place if technology fails (for example, to maintain quorum).
If the municipal council or regional district board decides to adopt electronic meeting provisions, it must establish the process in its procedure bylaw. There are numerous considerations for a board or council in determining the local government's policy on electronic participation in meetings. For example:
- In what types of meetings are members be able to participate electronically?
- Are there defined circumstances where the public can expect council or board members to be physically present?
- What are acceptable reasons to participate electronically for example, travel considerations?
- How many members are able to participate electronically at a given meeting?
- Are other individuals for example, consultants or staff members, permitted to participate electronically? Or are they be required to be physically present?
- Does the local government have the equipment and technology to make electronic meetings successful for council or board members and the public?
Learn more about procedure bylaw:
Municipalities and regional districts are required to post a notice of every council, board or special meeting, unless council or board members unanimously vote otherwise. Each notice must specify if the meeting is to be conducted electronically and, if so, must identify the place where the public may attend to hear, or watch and hear, the proceedings.
The facilities for the electronic meeting must enable the meeting’s participants and the public to hear, or watch and hear, each other. A designated municipal or regional district officer must be in attendance at the place of the electronic meeting.