Now, you too can enjoy the hustle and bustle of an in-person council meeting. Stating with the Committee of the Whole meeting on April 4, all members of the public will be able to attend city council meetings in-person, in the council chambers, in city hall. Naturally, there are still options for the people not so sure about being among the public in an enclosed setting, but for the most part, it’s back to business as unusual at the horseshoe!
The announcement from the City Clerk’s office Wednesday is the next phase of re-opening council post-pandemic lockdown following the re-commencement of in-person meetings at March’s Committee of the Whole a few weeks ago.
“We had a successful hybrid Committee of the Whole meeting earlier this month,” said City Clerk Stephen O’Brien in a statement. “While we’ll continue with the hybrid model, we’re also ready to welcome all of City Council, City staff, community members and the media back to Council Chambers in April.”
Yes, while you can be at the council chambers in-person starting on April 4, you won’t have to be in the physical council chambers if you want to participate in a meeting. Not only will live-streaming continue on the City’s website, but delegates will be able to appear either in-person at the podium, or via telepresence on a phone or video call if that makes them feel more comfortable.
And comfort may be a bigger issue on April 4 because the City of Guelph confirmed in the media release that you will not need proof of vaccination or a mask to end city hall or the council chambers. Mask mandates end on March 21 as previously announced by both the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, and the Medical Officer of Health for Wellington, Dufferin and Guelph.
Guelph was one of the first municipal governments to adjust to a virtual meeting format after the first COVID-19 lockdown was initiated in March 2020; the first virtual emergency meeting of council took place on March 23, 2020, less than a week after the City facilities, including City Hall, were closed to the public.
As previously announced, there will be technical and infrastructure upgrades to the council chambers during the election break later this year to make it easier to continue hybrid format meetings in the next term. Funding was approved by city council in the 2022-2023 budget deliberations.