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Sep. 22, 2020 | Tuesday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: NOTL proposal to continue virtual meetings a bad idea

Dear editor:

A Better Niagara is concerned with a proposed Niagara-on-the-Lake bylaw amendment that would not only allow up to seven councillors to continue to meet electronically for council meetings, even after the state of emergency is over, but would also limit delegations to those meetings to virtual only.

We agree with Coun. Gary Burroughs who said: "My basic problem with this whole thing is that we're moving away from democracy as I know it .. " 

This is just wrong. Once the COVID-19 crisis has passed and it is safe to hold public meetings again, citizens should be able to attend in person, and make delegations in person, to their elected representatives, if they desire to do so. Council members should also attend in person if at all possible.

Since the lockdown in mid-March, we have all learned that virtual meeting are possible and can be productive. But they are not the same as meeting in person, one human being to another, where you can perceive the full range of human communication that comes, not just from disembodied heads and voices, but from a person’s entire presence.

Allowing virtual delegations has had the advantage of allowing people who found it difficult to have the time, or to travel the distance, to in-person meetings to make presentations to their councils.

The choice to continue to make delegations that way should certainly be allowed to continue, but to deny those who want to appear in person before their elected officials is just wrong and an affront to democracy.

We hope Niagara-on-the Lake residents speak up to their council before this proposed bylaw goes to a vote.

Liz Benneian

A Better Niagara