Province gives leave for in-­person council meetings

Record Staff

Quebec’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Andrée Laforest, has announced that municipalities and municipal organizations can once again hold open council meetings and public assemblies in the presence of citizens. In addition, calls for tenders can now be made in the presence of witnesses and bidders, as provided for by municipal laws, without being pre-registered.
“With the evolution of public health directives, municipalities can once again hold their activities in the presence of the public,” Laforest said. “I am sure that all administrations will continue to put in place the means necessary to protect their citizens. We must continue our fight against the spread of COVID-19 all together. “
Under the reopening, a municipal body may limit access to the public, or part of it, to a meeting of the council in order to ensure compliance with the social distance requirement of two meters between people. In such a case, a municipality must publicize the session as soon as possible so as to allow the public to know the content. For any meeting that must include a question period, any municipal body must also allow citizens to send written questions to council members. In addition, it is always possible to replace a public meeting with a written consultation, provided that it lasts for 15 days.
Public audiences of all kinds had previously been suspended as a part of measures to help control the spread of COVID-19. On March 15 the minister informed municipal organizations that they could hold council meetings in camera and elected officials were allowed to participate by any means of communication, such as the telephone or videoconference. On March 19, all municipal organizations were asked to cancel or postpone all forms of meetings requiring the presence of the public. On April 3, municipal organizations were informed of their obligation to open tenders without the presence of the public or those who submitted tenders. Calls were instead to take place before at least two witnesses who had no interest in the contract concerned and audiovisual recording of the call for tenders was made compulsory.
Despite the change, the meeting scheduled in Sherbrooke for Monday night will continue to take place without an in-person audience. Those wishing to send a question to the council can submit it online at

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