The Applicant’s Response Submission has been submitted
Late on the night of May 28, I emailed my response to the City’s submission to the the OIPCBC and to the lawyer for the City. The next step involves a reply submission from the City which will be due on June 5, to be followed by a decision in the matter from the OIPCBC adjudicator assigned to this case.
I will publish my response to the City’s position after the adjudicator has made a decision in the matter.
In the meantime, I see and hear a great deal of interest in FOI all across Canada as governments attempt to do more and more work outside the public eye in-camera and in some cases go further to destroy public documents before they can be found.
The best means to support transparency is for the meetings of public bodies to be recorded on video for all to see. The kind of minutes currently produced are, as much as Staff may try to capture the most important items that take place in a meeting, are, by not capturing everything, necessarily redacted. A video record is as good as it gets and given today’s technology and costs it should be demanded for all public meetings. I note particularly in that regard that last Mondays’ 4:30om COW meeting held in the SARC Board Room (a total of about 20 public seats), as important as it was, was not video recorded. Our meeting next Monday will be at the RDN Board room (another room with very little room for live public participation) and whether video will be available is unknown at this time.
Should the VICC, with its conference room wired for video and often referred to as our Council Board Room, ever become more popular with conferences -as it has for the last two weeks- citizens will once again find themselves relying on 18th century technology to follow what our Council is undertaking on our behalf.
I would encourage all citizens who wish to be informed about what is going on in our City to write to our Mayor and Council and ask that they ensure that citizens are served with reliable video service for all our public meetings. Without this service we are as out of touch with out government as were the citizens of of Nanaimo in the late 1800’s when they had to rely on newspaper reports and the minutes of meetings which are only available weeks after a meeting has taken place.
I still don’t understand why the new city hall was not wired to video all council meetings. If I remember it was to cost $ 90 000.00. Surely, it would have been worth it in the long run.
I believe that the rough wiring was done, but no contact wiring, no cameras, and no controls. It should have been done for Committee Meetings if nothing else. The time when public decisions (excluding a few defined subjects, for example 90(2) subjects) should be done in public. And these days that means on video as no matter how large the hall, it won’t hold all of the public. But they are still democratically entitled to see their representatives in action. If you are as concerned as I am that we not only continue a complete public record of our meetings, please write to our Mayor and Councillors at: firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know that you want to be able to see your elected representatives at work for you.