Bonfield council members still meet virtually, but when they do return to chambers—which could happen in April—the discussions will continue to be broadcast live and recorded for posterity.
Councillor Eric Foisy brought the resolution to council during its March 22 meeting, a motion Mayor Randy McLaren eagerly supported.
McLaren often opens council meetings by welcoming the “millions of viewers” watching from home via the township’s YouTube channel. Regardless of the numbers, McLaren wants to ensure these viewers can continue accessing meetings online.
“I don’t think we could ever go back to the day where our council is not available by video,” he said. The groundwork to broadcast was put in place before the pandemic, councillor Marc Vaillancourt reminded council, although council did not go live until members were physically separated by Covid prevention protocols.
A camera was installed in council’s chambers in 2016, and “we had the capabilities to broadcast our meetings,” Mayor McLaren said. “We just never went live, then Covid-19 came along and put us all online instead of in the chambers.”
Councillor Jason Corbett, who joined council last August to fill a vacant seat after Sylvie Beaudoin resigned in May 2021, mentioned: “it was great to hear” that the required “infrastructure was already in place,” as there would be “little cost to the municipality” to continue the live streams.
However, although a camera has been installed, Mayor McLaren mentioned “that we haven’t used the infrastructure” for a meeting as of yet, “but as far as we know, it’s just a matter of being in the chamber and using the equipment we have in place.”
Deputy clerk Andree Gagne cautioned that “it’s been so long” since the equipment was used council “might have to upgrade” to ensure it is capable of handling live-streaming meetings. Staff will also investigate the technical requirements necessary to host a meeting if some members are live in the chamber and others join virtually.
Continuing to stream live meetings and post past meetings on the township’s YouTube page will allow residents to “be kept informed of the municipality’s developments,” Foisy noted in his motion. “Recorded and streamed meetings have contributed to the accountability and transparency of council and its committees.”
Council agreed, and all future council, special council, and committee meetings will be streamed live, recorded, and posted online for public viewing.
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.