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“Podcasting” Council and Committee of the Whole



RATIONALE


Technological advances in recent years have made live “podcasting” of Council and Committee of the Whole meetings much less expensive and technically much easier to accomplish. Podcasting, which is essentially live television on the internet, is already being carried out by several municipalities in the region and offers a number of advantages.


 Podcasting provides the opportunity for virtually all citizens to observe their Council in action without having to make an evening trip to the Council Chamber. This extends a fundamental principle of democracy and could be particularly valuable for some seniors and others who are reluctant to travel at night. In addition, citizens could “take in” Council and Committee of the Whole meetings in a time frame that works for them. They need not, for example, stay up until 11:30 pm to take in a late running meeting but, instead, could view it at their convenience. Similarly, if they had a conflicting event scheduled during Council’s meeting time, they could still observe input to Council and Council’s deliberations.  


Given vastly reduced prices for large amounts of storage (A three terabyte hard drive, can now be purchased for under $200.00), it is also reasonable for podcasts to be stored in their entirety and indexed for future reference. This could be of great value to citizens at election time or any other time when they were interested in tracking their representative’s views and decision making on particular issues.


 Stored podcasts could also be of value to Mayor and Council and staff. Over a three year span, or in some cases longer, Council deals with a large number of applications and issues. Given the time frame and sheer volume of material, it is natural for some memories to fade. Stored podcasts would make it easy for any member of Council, at their convenience, to review the position they took and the rationale they used for any of the decisions they have made. They could also review input from their peers and the public. Similarly, there may be situations where staff could also benefit from an ability to review.


 Finally, podcasting and stored podcasts provide a means for Council to ensure that an exact record of Council and Committee of the Whole meetings is readily available to the public. As we have observed in our own Chamber, it is easy these days for someone to come in, “tape” Council and Committee of the Whole meetings and later make them available on the internet. In most cases, these practices are likely being carried out with the best of intentions. However, commonly available video editing creates the possibility of presenting a misleading record to the public if an individual or organization is so inclined. Given this possibility, it is important that Council has its own process and ability to ensure that an exact and accurate record of Council’s proceedings is available to the public on the internet



RECOMMENDATIONS


1. That this report be referred to staff with a request to report back to Council, as soon as possible, with a review of how Council might proceed to create live podcasts of Council and Committee of Whole meetings and establish indexed long term storage of podcasts that would be readily available to Council, staff and the public.



  

Councillor Vic Derman



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