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County of Forty Mile take council meetings online

Posted on April 15, 2020 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Justin Seward

Commentator/Courier

Forty Mile councilors began their new meeting routine by discussing municipal topics during an online live session on April 8 as COVID-19 pandemic continues to hit worldwide.
“That was a new experience for us,” said county Reeve Steve Wikkerink.
“Especially with being on live, anybody could come on at any point and just listen in. But people are always welcome to come in and sit in council meetings too. It’s kind of the same thing. It’s there and you know who it is and you can see them. I think we got through it fairly well.”
Wikkerink says when council is discussing heavy topics that take an hour to debate, that those discussions would be nicer to do in-person.
“I think as we do a few more of these virtual meetings, I think we’re going to get more comfortable with them,” he said.
The public can access the live council meetings by the Forty Mile app, the county’s Facebook page and their website.
The council meetings will be streamed live until further notice that council can meet back in the office again.
“I could see a lot of sub-committee meetings changing and whether it’ll stay at the municipal level, I guess that will be determined by Municipal Affairs,” said Wikkerink.
Council meeting briefs
Continuity plan
Council approved the county’s business continuity plan.
“What that plan does is you list all of your departments, you list how many people work in each department and you go through if 35 per cent of your staff was off sick, does that leave any of your departments short staffed, and then it takes out what if you lose 50 per cent of your staff, do you have departments that are short,” he said.
“What that does is it really shows the importance of cross-training staff. We’ve always done a pretty good job in public works and our administration building to (cross train staff).”
Wikkerink says they did identify a couple of gaps and immediately as the coronavirus started, the county did some extra cross training in the office.
The plan also showed which of the county’s services were vital including water and sewer and other low priority items such as grading a road or cutting the grass.
Radios
The county has been working on switching to digital radios for the fire departments.
A county resident had asked to get all the old radios and use on their own farm.
“At this point we said ‘No,’” said Wikkerink
“We got to make sure our own departments are supplied with everything they need first before we entertain anything like that.”
The digital radios don’t work as well down by Aden from member-to-member
The Aden Fire Department asked to have some of the old radios back to talk to one another within their department.
Council voted to keep them within their fire departments.

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