In-person council meetings are returning to Langley City Council.
On Sept. 14, the mayor, members of council and staff will hold their public meeting in the council chambers at Langley City hall for the first time since virtual sessions were implemented as part of the municipal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since March, City council meetings have been held using video conferencing, with the live broadcasts archived online at the City YouTube channel.
Langley City Chief Administrative Officer Francis Cheung described the meeting as a “pilot” to see if measures like Plexiglas dividers and taped-off seating will be effective.
“We will limit how many people can enter the council chambers.” Cheung told the Langley Advance Times.
Under the new limits, no more than 32 people maximum, including council staff and visitors, will be allowed in the second-floor meeting chambers,compared to the usual maximum of 80 to 90 pre-COVID-19.
There will be an assessment after the Sept. 14 meeting, to decide whether to continue in-public sessions and what adjustments might be required.
“We will test it out and see if it works,” Cheng remarked.
Cheung said one possibility under consideration would be to set up an overflow room where people could follow the proceeding via live video, and be ushered into the chambers by staff when it was their turn to make a presentation to council.
Meanwhile, he said, the City continues to encourage residents to continue monitoring by live-streaming council meetings.
A number of other local governments are resuming in-person public meetings, Cheung said, including Abbotsford, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and the Fraser Valley Regional District.
Cheung noted the province is encouraging municipal governments to “make best efforts” at resuming public meetings.
Media relations at Langley Township, in response to a Langley Advance Times query said “plans are being developed to allow for Mayor and Councillors to safely attend Council meetings in-person, but a [precise] date has not been set.”
In late June, the Township announced the council chambers will be open to the public, but council members would not be present.
Seating was reconfigured in the council chambers, the Fraser River Presentation Theatre, for the open portions of council meetings to allow for social distancing, limits on meeting sizes, and other restrictions required by provincial health authorities.
Gallery seating for the public will be limited to 20 people.
The Township is also limiting numbers of riders in the elevators and the new procedures are posted.
Council members will be attending the meetings electronically and will not be physically present.