Nova Scotia

Kentville councillors criticized for Skyping from Florida into council meetings

Two councillors in Kentville, N.S., who are running in the upcoming municipal election are taking some heat for attending council meetings via Skype from Florida.

'They're not performing their job,' says resident Cathy Eaton

For the past three years, councillors Mark Pearl, left, and Bill Boyd have Skyped into council meetings from Florida during the months of January, February and March. (Facebook)

Two councillors in Kentville, N.S., who are running in the upcoming municipal election are taking some heat for Skyping into council meetings from Florida.

For the past three years, Bill Boyd and Mark Pearl have done this for January, February and March meetings.

"That's just wrong. They represent roughly 1,000 people each," said resident Marcia Eyre, who's lived in Kentville for 25 years. "So, how can they do that from Florida?"

Town of Kentville councillors are paid an annual salary of $18,600.

Resident Cathy Eaton also thinks Skyping into meetings is wrong.

"They're not performing their job. They're not going to their committee meetings. The rest of the council would have to fill in for them on different committees," she said.

Councillor defends practice

Boyd says he's following an approved policy and always looks after any constituent who calls for help.

"For example, snow removal. That's an operational matter, so I quickly pass that on to the CAO who deals with the operation," said Boyd.

Pearl did not return phone messages from CBC News.

Town council approved a video conferencing policy in September 2012. Kentville officials believe it complies with Nova Scotia's Municipal Government Act. Some provinces specifically define being present as being in the room, while others are silent about whether they allow for Skyping.

Provincial rules state that any councillor with three "unexcused" absences can lose their seat.

The Municipality of Kings County, which is adjacent to Kentville, does not allow remote access to council meetings.

With files from Richard Woodbury

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