MISSOULA — The Missoula City Council is passing the half-year mark of not having an "in-person" meeting but it doesn't appear that approach is going to end anytime soon.
Like almost all city councils, county commissions and school boards, Missoula council members were quick to begin employing online tools to keep meeting during last spring's lockdown. That started with ad hoc tools but eventually settled into using Zoom for regular weekly meetings and council work sessions.
But unlike some smaller jurisdictions, who've returned to limited in-person meetings, Missoula Mayor John Engen says the city hasn't been able to figure out a way to do that. He says that's primarily because of the size of the council and the available meeting space.
“There continues to be enough uncertainty with the nature of the pandemic and really our space limitations. It's going to be tough to do an in-person meeting for a while and keep people safe. I think the majority of the City Council is pretty concerned about that. So we'll be back in person at some point. I suspect that we'll start with a hybrid of some kind.”
Engen says that would allow some council members, and an audience, to participate in person, while others join online. But he says the city will have to work out the technical details.