Lantzville District Hall. (News Bulletin file photo)

Lantzville opts against forming social media committee

Committee would have helped district council develop policy on social media behaviour

Lantzville councillors dislike the idea of a social media policy committee.

At a special council meeting on Jan. 20, Lantzville councillors unanimously rejected a motion calling for the creation of a short-term social media policy committee.

Had the committee been formed, it would have been responsible for developing a social media policy for Lantzville council members.

Lantzville council has had a strange history dealing with social media in recent years.

In 2017, Lantzville Mayor Colin Haime along with then-councillors Denise Haime and John Coulson filed a civil lawsuit against former councillors Jennifer Millbank, Graham Savage and Dave Scott, claiming they engaged in a nearly six-month public campaign to discredit them over social media. The lawsuit was later dropped.

That same year, the district was forced to issue a press release distancing themselves and council from comments made by the mayor about Nanaimo city council and staff.

Then in 2018, Lantzville councillors debated and ultimately declined to launch an investigation into determining the identity of the user or users behind a Twitter account with the username @GordShumway1, which posted a confidential letter containing sensitive information about a development and two members of council.

RELATED: Lantzville council decides not to investigate identity of Twitter user

During the Jan. 20 meeting, Coun. Karen Proctor, who made the recent motion, told councillors that she believes the public expects elected officials to use social media. She explained that she made the motion to create a short-term social media policy committee due to concerns that some members of council might post misleading information online.

“My concern, when I brought this forward, is that there have been people who have posted things on the Facebook page that is misleading, that are untruthful, that are sometimes lies, and I do have a concern about people on council behaving that way,” she said.

There was very little discussion on the matter; however, Coun. Ian Savage said he was opposed to the idea of a social media committee and would rather see council just deal with any issues as they arise.

“I don’t really see a need for it,” he said. “I think we can just agree amongst ourselves what we feel we want and just have consensus that way.”

Coun. Will Geselbracht echoed similar thoughts as Savage, saying that if a councillor is out of line on social media or were to violate a social media policy then council as a whole can deal with it.

“We come up with a social media policy and one of us goes out there and breaches that, what is the remedy? The ultimate remedy is we vote to censure that member…” he said. “I just don’t see a committee being able to do that.”

In the end, councillors agreed not to continue with the creation of a social media policy committee.

RELATED: Lantzville distances itself from mayor’s social media comments on Nanaimo referendum







nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com 
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