City council meetings, such as the one shown above from February 24, will look differently for a while. Future meetings of Weyburn city council will be done electronically until further notice, council decided on Monday evening, as the city observes the restrictions set in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting went ahead open to the public as normal, with social distancing observed, after first planning to have the meeting closed to the public.
City manager Mathew Warren said for future meetings, they will use the Zoom app and the City’s YouTube channel, along with the Access Community Channel, for people to see the meetings live.
The Zoom app will enable the media to access the meetings and ask questions of council without being physically present for the meetings.
The first electronic meeting will take place for the next scheduled city council meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14.
Warren noted that a section of the Cities Act provides the permission for council to hold meetings in this way, as long as the public has been informed and that all participants are able to connect and take part in the meeting.
“It’s a really prudent move I think council should do,” said Warren, who noted staff have been running tests to make sure this arrangement will work for everyone at City Hall and on council.
“I strongly encourage you guys moving forward to go this way,” he said.
“I appreciate your diligence in getting this in place,” said Coun. Jeff Richards. “I want residents to realize they’ll still be able to see council meetings and interact with us.”
“I really think this is the best way to move forward,” commented Warren, pointing out this will give Access the opportunity to provide the service in addition to being on YouTube.
“We don’t know how long this is going to be,” he added, noting they will be doing a test run with the media to ensure it all works properly.
• In other council business, council decided to defer interest charges on late utility payments, and disconnection fees for unpaid utility bills, until Aug. 31 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pre-authorized payments for utilities will continue to be made as before, and this deferring action will take effect immediately.
• Council approved a motion for the City to investigate setting up a regional water project, and will be a part of a SaskWater application for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program under the drinking water category.
The purpose of such a project is to develop a regional water system that will provide a safe, reliable and sustainable water source to Weyburn and to several nearby communities and RMs.
In addition to providing a safe water source for all of these municipalities, it will also support economic development and future community growth, and reduce the environmental footprint through the development of a regional water system.
SaskWater has had discussions with a number of neighbouring towns and RMs, and “it has been determined there is a collective need to address the state of our water infrastructure, and that doing so together is the most mutually beneficial option,” said the report to city council.
• Council approved a proposal to install a PVC tank liner on cell 2 of the First Avenue reservoir, after a persistent leakage problem appeared. During construction of the First Avenue reservoir, the contractor and consultant reported a concern of leakage in the west reservoir, and select patching was used to stop the leaks. The leaks were reduced from 148 cubic meters a day to 22 cubic meters a day, but the leaks persisted, so an alternative method was considered to fix the problem.
The recommendation was to either install Xypex concrete on the cell floor, or install a PVC liner. Even though it’s the more expensive option, the engineering department recommended using the PVC liner at a cost of $111,529.
The item was not budgeted for, and is an overage on the First Avenue Reservoir project, said Warren.