Should the City of Vernon follow other communities streaming videos of council meetings? - InfoNews

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Should the City of Vernon follow other communities streaming videos of council meetings?

Vernon City Hall
March 14, 2017 - 8:00 PM

VERNON - It’s no Game of Thrones, but there are some in Vernon who would like to see recordings of city council meetings made more readily available.

In contrast to municipalities such as the City of Kamloops, City of Penticton and District of West Kelowna which all offer online webcasts, the City of Vernon relies on Shaw to record and broadcast council meetings. 

The recordings can be viewed the second and fourth Tuesday and Thursday of the month at 11 a.m. on Shaw T.V.

That’s little help to working people unable to watch the broadcast in the middle of the day, says Coun. Scott Anderson, who asked staff to report back on the cost and viability of enhancing coverage.

“I think it’s time we caught up,” Anderson says. “It seems to me that making council meetings available is a cost effective way of furthering citizen participation.”

While the City of Kelowna still relies on Castanet to video record meetings, the District of West Kelowna, City of Penticton and City of Kamloops, for example, all offer an archive of webcasts that are available online, any time, for citizens’ viewing pleasure.

Anderson realizes not everyone will be interested in watching the meetings in full, but says it would be helpful for citizens who read the news and want to follow up on a topic in more detail by watching the complete exchange in council.

“We’re becoming a larger city now. There’s no reason to keep citizens in the dark, which is effectively what we’re doing now,” Anderson says.

He raised the topic at Monday’s meeting after councillors received a letter from a constituent asking the city to improve access to recordings.

City of Vernon communications officer Tanya Laing Gahr says a big part of the equation is cost. The city would have to hire someone to record the meetings and upload them to the website, while Shaw is a free service.

“It’s one of those things, because we are so careful of the tax dollars being spent,” Laing Gahr says.

She says staff will be reviewing costs and options to bring back to council.

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