VERNON - Taping Vernon council meetings and posting them online is not as simple as just hitting the record button.
Vernon is one of the only large communities in the Thompson-Okanagan where video recordings of council meetings are not readily available online. The city currently relies on Shaw to tape meetings, but the recordings are only available to Shaw customers and only at specific hours.
Coun. Scott Anderson first asked staff to look into the idea of recording city council meetings and posting them online last month, and staff reported back today, April 10.
“One of the major issues I’ve been pushing for in this council is openness and accountability,” Anderson said.
Director of corporate services Patti Bridal told council administration recommends sticking with the status quo.
“When a municipality takes on responsibility and ownership of video recordings the retention and management of the recordings provides many challenges under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,” Bridal said in a written memo to council.
For example, if a broad request was made under the Freedom of Information Act for all records on a certain topic, city staff may have to review many hours of council footage if the videos were kept in the city’s possession.
While the staff recommendation was not to pursue recording meetings, councillors want to see it explored.
Council discussed having a third party — potentially a media outlet — handle the recording and storage of videos, which would relieve the city of any Freedom of Information obligations.
Another possible option is only keeping the recordings for a certain amount of time and then destroying them, which also simplifies the Freedom of Information implications. Coun. Dalvir Nahal, however, pointed out that option would defeat the purpose of people being able to go back and look at meetings.
Council directed staff to review the idea of a third party taking on the job. More information will be brought back to council for consideration sometime in the future.
Anderson acknowledged that not all residents would watch the recordings but believes some will.
“There are issues that directly affect people, and that they do want to see,” Anderson said.
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