District of Lantzville Town Hall

District of Lantzville Town Hall

Lantzville plans to develop policy on recording in-camera meetings

NANAIMO – Councillors expressed concerns about privacy with the possible recording of in-camera meetings.

The District of Lantzville’s in-camera meetings could take on a very literal meaning in the near future.

On Monday, Lantzville councillors approved a motion that will see district staff develop a policy to allow audio or video recordings of in-camera meetings by district staff members.

Currently, Lantzville has no policy prohibiting councillors or staff from recording in-camera meetings in any capacity.

There was plenty of discussion by councillors, with some expressing concerns about privacy, security and potential legal risks with regards to recording in-camera meetings.

Coun. Denise Haime said she had no concerns about being recorded during in-camera meetings, adding it “never hurts” to have accurate records.

“As an elected official, I have no concerns about my comments being recorded. I don’t say anything that I am not afraid to have recorded. I think what it does is it keeps the record straight as we heard in the past there are rumours about stuff that goes on in camera,” Haime said. “This would take that all away because there is a recorded record of what goes on in camera.”

Coun. Mark Swain expressed concerns about the storage of digitally recorded meetings and worried about potential legal liabilities should digital recordings ever be leaked.

“If we go to a system where the district is recording, I am not strongly opposed to that because at least we know how that information is being safe guarded,” Swain said. “We are dealing with staff’s confidential information as well as individuals within our community and if that is ever breached then the whole district is essentially at risk.”

Coun. John Coulson, who spoke in favour of recording in-camera meetings, said recordings could be used as “evidence” for the district and that the agenda doesn’t accurately capture what took place in the meetings.

“It could protect the district’s interests. The minutes are what they are, but they really don’t capture the discussion, the tone, all the underlying back-and-forth of what led to a motion,” Coulson said.

Meanwhile, Coun. Dot Neary said she found it difficult to support the idea of recording any in-camera meeting.

“The whole point of the meeting is that it is in camera,” Neary said. “That information, regardless of what took place in the meeting, will never be released unless council directs that an item be recorded out.”

Speaking to councillors, Brad McRae, the district’s chief administrative officer, and Trudy Coates, director of corporate administration, both said that in their experience they had never worked in a municipality that had ever had staff record in-camera meetings.

“It’s unheard of to record,” Coates said. “In fact, most places have legal advice not to produce extensive minutes … because there are other circumstances where the record could and would be released.”

Councillors Swain, Coulson, Colclough, Haime and Mayor Colin Haime voted in favour of the motion, while Neary voted against it.

Coun. Will Geselbracht was absent.

No time frame was given as to when staff would be able to create a policy.