Castlegar City Council at their swearing in ceremony in 2022. Photo: Betsy Kline

Castlegar City Council at their swearing in ceremony in 2022. Photo: Betsy Kline

Castlegar council updates online meeting policy

Policy changes enhance confidentiality and decorum

The City of Castlegar has updated its policy regarding city councillors attending meetings remotely.

With electronic meeting attendance on the rise, city staff was tasked with researching other municipal and provincial government policies and bylaws to identify best practices and present a policy to council for approval.

Mayor Maria McFaddin and Coun. Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff encouraged a new policy because they have received numerous complaints regarding distractions caused by some online meeting participants.

Some of the new policy items govern attendance and others govern behaviour.

One of the policies is designed to encourage council to attend meetings in person: council members can’t attend more than two council meetings in a row electronically unless authorized by the mayor.

“I think it is important that we sit around the table whenever possible,” said Coun. Brian Bogle. “Sometimes a computer screen is much harder for a person to read when they are trying to make a point.”

Councillors must also notify the corporate officer, chief administrative officer, and mayor in writing of their intended absence a minimum of 24 hours in advance of the meeting.

Moreover, councillors are no longer allowed to join meetings using a handheld device and they must sign in 15 minutes early to sort out technical issues.

Cameras must be kept on at all times during the meeting with audio muted, except when speaking.

Councillors must vote visually or audibly to show their vote and allow the corporate officer to record the vote.

Electronic attendees will be noted in the meeting minutes, as will any departures they make from the meeting.

If councillors must leave the meeting temporarily, after being acknowledged and excused by the chair, they need to turn off their video and audio, and resume the video as soon as they return to the meeting.

If a councillor attends a closed meeting electronically, they must confirm at the beginning of the meeting that they have assured adequate privacy for the conversation, and that confidentiality is maintained.

No other person is permitted to be in the room or to be able to see or hear the meeting taking place.

Councillors must be in an appropriate, quiet room, with a neutral background, and display their first and last name on the screen.

They must dress appropriately, in the same manner as if they were attending the meeting in person.

Finally, councillors must conduct themselves in the same manner as if they were attending in person, being aware that members of the public and media may be watching.

City council meetings typically take place twice a month. Residents can attend in person, watch online live, or watch the recorded video afterwards. Links to meetings and past videos can be found at

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