Residents are no longer able to join council meetings online for the Township of Emo due to issues faced using Zoom video conferencing and doubts about the necessity of live streaming council meetings.
In 2020, the Township of Emo began utilizing Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential health and safety risks of in-person council meetings. “Zoom was a wonderful thing during COVID,” said Mayor Harold McQuaker.
McQuaker said he is now concerned about matters being misconstrued on Zoom. He suggested that those interested in municipal matters attend in person.
“I feel now that it’s time to go back to where if you want to attend our council meetings prior to in-camera [meetings] that you can come to our meeting, and sit there as it always was. There can be a lot of good things with Zoom, but then there’s a lot of things that I would say are construed by Zoom,” he said.
Without disclosing specific incidents, McQuaker expressed his concern with the conduct of various residents that he believes could have been avoided if the individual had attended the meeting in-person. “They were hiding behind Zoom to do things that they probably wouldn’t have done if they were face to face with the mayor or Council,” he said.
“It’s like social media. Social media, lots of times, if you want to just say something and maybe you’re a little disgruntled about something, and you wouldn’t say it to the person that you’re disgruntled at, but you do so from social media,” McQuaker said.
McQuaker added that he and two other councilors have been “raked over the coals” on social media, over former issues.
The decision to stop live streaming council meetings has not been officially made but was discussed in the last council meeting, he said.
McQuaker said he is more than happy to have residents join council meetings in person.
“We have our planning meeting at 5:30 and then our regular meeting at 6 o’clock but we’d be more than happy to have you there,” he said.
For more information on upcoming meetings and events for the Township of Emo, visit www.emo.ca.