Kingston city hall changes the way it runs due to coronavirus

The first meeting of Kingston city council since the World Health Organization declared a novel coronavirus pandemic will mark a significant change in the way the local government conducts its business for the foreseeable future.

Council is poised to bring in new measures to alter its 2020 budget Tuesday to reflect extra spending and a drop in revenues, give councillors more flexibility to vote from home and hold regular meetings in a new, larger venue.

The 19th-century council chamber on the second floor of city hall is no longer considered safe for politicians, staff, the media and the public due to the close proximity of desks and chairs — social distancing rules would be next to impossible to follow.

A typical council meeting can see 20 to 50 people gathering in the chamber known as Ontario Hall, including the mayor and 12 councillors, senior staff, delegations to council and other members of the public.

The March 24 meeting will, instead, be moved to the opposite end of city hall into the more spacious Memorial Hall.

The room has been converted into a makeshift council chamber to try to reflect social distancing rules.

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