One of the many things that left local governments scrambling in the wake of the Province’s state of emergency this spring due to COVID-19 was how to hold meetings.
The Village of Cumberland, like many local governments, had to come up with a way to provide access to the public while many services were shutting down and people were recommended to follow social distancing guidelines.
The Village responded with by holding Zoom meetings livestreamed over YouTube. The plan for the future is to continue video, even after in-person meetings can be resumed.
The new post-COVID-19 policy, corporate officer Rachel Parker told council during a recent committee of the whole (COW) meeting, covers regular board meetings only, not COWs, public hearings and committee meetings. While all are public processes, she said, there are privacy concerns in light of so many things being posted on the Web now – for example, someone getting up to speak during a public hearing.
“The landscape has changed with everything being on the Internet, so we’re very conscious of protecting people’s privacy,” she added. “That’s why we wouldn’t put a public hearing livestreamed on the Internet.”
Under COVID-19 provision, committee meetings, for example, are being recorded but not livestreamed.
“They have to be publicly accessible,” Parker said, reiterating the new policy covers Village recording once normal practices return.
In addition to what meetings are to be streamed, the policy covers other issues such as how cameras should be directed, notification of recording, how recordings are stored, circumstances under which a recording can be ended or interrupted, copyright and who is permitted to use the recordings.
For the long term, with Shaw no longer videotaping regular Cumberland meetings, council has been looking at more permanent video technology options to livestream the regular council meetings in the future.
The City of Courtenay had previously recorded meetings prior to the pandemic, while the Town of Comox has been using video streamed over its Facebook page for meetings in recent months.