Sables-Spanish Rivers Council meetings should be videotaped or be broadcast live online!
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PLEASE ONLY SIGN THIS PETITION IF YOU ARE A RESIDENT, HAVE BEEN A RESIDENT, OR MIGHT BECOME A RESIDENT, OR HAVE PARTICULAR AND DIRECT CONNECTION TO THE TOWNSHIP OF SABLES-SPANISH RIVERS (MASSEY, WALFORD, WEBBWOOD AND FORMER TOWNSHIPS).
UPDATE AS OF MAY 14, 2019: We originally declared a VICTORY as we had been told that Council had instructed staff to research the idea of videotaping and/or live streaming their regular council meetings. Resident and community activist Jayson Stewart made a presentation to Council, demonstrating that an investment of less than $500 in equipment would be all it takes to broadcast meetings to everyone. The presentation was well received and we felt that the argument was well made: broadcasting, live streaming, or videotaping (and making available online) regular meetings would improve democracy, would make meetings more accessible to all but especially to those with young families or who have mobility issues or are seasonal residents, creates a searchable archive of HOW decisions are made, and allows council to broaden how they communicate with people.
This petition, signed by ONE HUNDRED THIRTY residents of Sables-Spanish Rivers, was presented to Council at that time. Over 75 other residents have contacted us saying they would have signed the petition had it not been closed early.
We were shocked to learn that Sables Spanish Rivers Council HAS CHOSEN TO IGNORE THE REQUEST OF MORE THAN TWO HUNDRED RESIDENTS AND WILL NOT PURSUE THE BROADCASTING, LIVE-STREAMING, OR RECORDING AND ARCHIVING of their meetings.
We feel that this:
-does nothing to increase community participation in municipal decision making
-does nothing to improve transparency and, in fact, maintains a silent status quo
-silences the voices of over 200 residents who signed or would have signed the petition
-limits accessibility to those who do NOT have young children at home or those who can afford child care, those who who do not work evenings, those who are not seasonal residents, those who are physically healthy, and those who have reliable transportation
PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION!
As our society has evolved, so too should government at all levels. There is added pressure and responsibility on governments to be transparent, to communicate efficiently with all citizens, to represent the interest of all and to be accountable to the voters for their decisions.
Progressive governments embrace technology, communicate using multiple platforms, engage the citizenry in meaningful discussion and value the collective wisdom of the community. Competitive municipalities, that are ahead of the curve and not reactionary, embrace 21st Century skills and mindset to better adapt to a changing world.
"Today’s landscape looks different. Many council members now find themselves staring out into empty council chambers, fighting for what they deem important, never to have their stories told beyond the recorded minutes that might not even get read.
Though some would conclude that these empty halls confirm an apathetic population, there’s another explanation to consider. Perhaps the problem is not that people are disinterested in their communities, but rather that they now engage with them in different ways." - Alex Hilleary
The Township of Sables-Spanish Rivers does what a Northern Ontario community was expected to do twenty years ago but has done little to embrace the concepts of participatory democracy, concepts that value discussion, collaboration, information gathering and transparent operations.
The youngest member of Council is (estimated) in their late 50s/early 60s and, at the Meet the Candidates Night, many acknowledged not even having an email address or a Smartphone. Council does not seem to recognize the importance of opening up meetings to online streaming despite it being a very common practice, even in the North. All major cities, most minor cities and a growing number of small municipalities recognize the communication power that live streaming provides.
I am a full-time teacher, actor, filmmaker and father of five. I cannot easily get away from those responsibilities to drive through a snowstorm to get to a meeting at the municipal office. It is doubly unfair for citizens at opposite ends of the community or those who cannot leave their home for health reasons, or who are out of town on business.
"Some city halls question why people would watch a city council meeting online if they aren’t willing to show up in person. The answer is simple: people are busy. Residents’ lives are filled with childrearing, exercise, work, travel, and more. Committing hours of an evening to a city hall meeting, often just to hear a 15-minute discussion on a particular topic of interest, doesn’t make sense. Many people find it a better use of time to tune into a discussion from the comforts of their home." -Hilleary
Most of the important information that happens at meetings never makes it into the official minutes. The minutes are a series of motions and decisions but with absolutely no context. Having a collection of video recordings would allow citizens to see that the issues are actually being discussed and that decisions aren't based on ignorance or rubber stamping but on thoughtful debate.
And, yes, having video coverage (live and recorded) of meetings does open up council to greateer scrutiny but, if they are working above board and for everyone's interest, then the proof of their efficiency as elected officials will be evident in the video record. The only type of person who wouldn't see this benefit is the type of person who has something to hide or who doesn't feel it's anyone's right to know. Both are dangerous kinds of politicians.
AS FOR COST AND EASE: Most people have a Smartphone, tablet, desktop, or laptop. If their phone was made in the last 12 years, they have a camera that allows for easy button-click live streaming through a series of free and paid services such as Google Hangouts, Skype, Facebook Live and more. There are some apps built specifically for municipal council meetings. If you can take a photo on a phone, you can stream and record a municipal council meeting. It's that simple.
ALL CITIZENS DESERVE the right to view and review council meetings that are live streamed and available to be viewed again. Please sign this petition and join me in a presentation to Council
SAMPLE OF SOME SMALL COMMUNITIES WITH LIVE STREAMED MEETINGS:
Selwyn Township, Town of Espanola, Quinte West, City of St. Thomas, Meaford, Town of Cochrane, Town of Whitby, Town of Marathon, Municipality of Brighton, Kawartha Lakes, Goderich, Aurora, and even the Rainbow Disrict School Board.
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