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Fort Macleod council responds to pandemic challenges

Mayor Brent Feyter

Extraordinary times create extraordinary actions.

The COVID-19 pandemic drove Fort Macleod council last week to live-stream its regular meeting on YouTube.

“These are unprecedented times,” Mayor Brent Feyter said.

As a precaution against the spread of COVID-19, council conducted its meeting via Zoom, an on-line communication service.

That allowed councillors Jim Monteith, Marco Van Huigenbos, David Orr and Gord Wolstenholme to take part without physically being in council chambers at the G.R. Davis Administration Building.

Gavin Scott, a planner with Oldman River Regional Services Commission, also joined the meeting from a remote location.

There were a few glitches at the outset, with the remote participants having trouble hearing, but they were ironed out quickly and the meeting proceeded smoothly.

To allow the public to take in the meeting, council live-streamed the event to YouTube.

“This is the first time we will be going live,” Feyter said.

The gallery is normally filled with chairs, most of which remain empty for regular council meetings.

At the March 23 meeting, most chairs were removed and the ones that remained were spaced widely apart to provide the recommended social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The people in the room included Feyter, Coun. Kristi Edwards, Coun. Werner Dressler, chief administrative officer Sue Keenan, director of community and protective services Liisa Gillingham, director of operations Adrian Pedro, chief financial officer Kris Holbeck and administrative assistant Meranda Day Chief.

They all maintained a safe distance from each other.

The G.R. Davis Building had closed earlier in the day, with people required to set up appointments to gain entry.

Feyter praised the Town of Fort Macleod staff for handling challenges presented by the pandemic.

“There are so many unknowns, so many hard things to work through,” Feyter said. “So I do want to give a lot of thanks to our staff for their work and energy and diligence.”

“This is something that is so hard to be able to comprehend.”

The mayor asked Fort Macleod residents to be patient during the pandemic and work with the Town of Fort Macleod to keep people safe.

Feyter said he is impressed by the way people in Fort Macleod are working to help one another during the pandemic.

Edwards also praised Fort Macleod residents for taking the pandemic threat seriously and following the instructions to flatten the COVID-19 curve.

Edwards also praised teachers and school division employees and staff at Fort Macleod grocery stores for the service provided through the pandemic.

“They have really gone above and beyond,” Edwards said.

Dressler had praise for staff at Fort Macleod Health Centre, doctors, veterinarians, the fire department, emergency medical services and RCMP.

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