Courtenay council considering going with the flow online

Courtenay council meetings could be streamed online.

At Monday's meeting, Coun. Doug Hillian brought forward a motion.

Courtenay council meetings could be streamed online.

At Monday’s meeting, Coun. Doug Hillian brought forward a motion to request a staff report on the feasibility of streaming meetings.

“It is an opportunity for people who don’t attend in person to be able to see what’s going on,” said Hillian, adding, “I believe it’s something that a number of other municipalities have done.”

Coun. Manno Theos was concerned that what councillors say at meetings could be manipulated if streamed.

“I think things get skewed on Internet and I think people can manipulate information on the Internet, and can redirect messages in ways they want,” said Theos.

He also noted that while Shaw Cable airs some council meetings already, the company owns the rights to the footage, and he wanted to know how streamed meetings would differ in that regard.

Coun. Jon Ambler said Theos’ concerns were legitimate, but also said this kind of problem has most likely been resolved.

“I’m confident that that is a problem that has been solved by the probably tens of thousands of other people that are already doing it,” said Ambler.

He also mentioned the way people get their information is changing and said that now his children don’t have telephone land lines, and some younger people don’t even have televisions anymore because they just stream programs on their computers.

“When you look at our citizens, some will read our newspapers, some will watch it on Shaw, and some will stream it off the Internet, and as the peoples’ business should be done in public, this is just one more step on that journey,” he said.

Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard agreed and pointed out that Internet streaming is still a “passive” form of communication, as viewers are simply observing rather than providing input. She also said she’s heard complaints that the City’s website could be more user-friendly. She suggested that more needs to be done to improve the City’s communication with the public.

“There’s opportunities to make information more accessible to people,” said Leonard.

“This is kind of like we’re cracking the surface of the whole communication egg here — and we have to make an omelette or something.”