Camera will be on Nanaimo city council at boardroom meetings

NANAIMO – City council has agreed to videotape council meetings at the Service and Resource Centre.

Residents can catch up on political decision-making at the Nanaimo’s Service and Resource Centre with new video records.

The City of Nanaimo will offer video recordings from inside the SARC boardroom for the first time, after city council agreed to the costs in a 5-2 vote Monday.

Audio of in-camera meetings, however, remain off limits to the public.

Cameras currently roll at the Shaw Auditorium, allowing residents to watch live or recorded council meetings from home, but that’s not the case in the SARC boardroom, where politicians have discussed issues of governance, budget and the upcoming core review.

City staff offered up options to tape meetings in a report, but advised council to wait to spend until after a core services review. The same document recommended council stick to its policy to not create or release permanent audio of closed meetings. It currently records audio for administrative purposes and it’s only kept temporarily.

City council agreed 6-1 to the recommendation on in-camera audio. Coun. Gord Fuller was opposed and Coun. Jim Kipp and Mayor Bill McKay were absent from the meeting. A motion to use basic video equipment in the SARC boardroom passed, with councillors Thorpe and Diane Brennan opposed.

Thorpe wanted to wait for the core review and what it said around governance, video facilities and where council holds its meetings, but Coun. Bill Yoachim said council should record, whether it’s a $3,000 or a $3 camera because councillors are making as important decisions and conversations in the boardroom as they are in council chambers.

Operating costs are estimated at $5,500 for the new service. The city will use an existing camcorder shared by two municipal departments and only purchase new equipment, a potential cost of $3,000, if there are significant scheduling issues.

There is no live stream capability with the camera and the production level and audio-visual quality is expected to be lower than what’s offered at the Shaw Auditorium, a city report shows.

The first recording will happen either Thursday (Oct. 22) on the draft financial plan, or the following council meeting held at the SARC boardroom, according to an e-mail from Guillermo Ferrero, city director of information technology and legislative services.