The Regional District of Nanaimo is looking at the cost of implementing web-based streaming of its committee of the whole and board meetings.
Electoral Area H (Deep Bay, Bowser and Qualicum Bay) director Stuart McLean made a motion at the RDN board’s regular meeting on March 26 that also includes investigating the cost of webcasting all public meetings held in the board chambers.
McLean said it’s important to make meetings accessible to all, especially to those who cannot attend the meetings.
The idea of providing a live feed of RDN meetings via the web was floated in 2012 but failed to gain any traction.
“I know it has been looked at, I believe several years ago, and there were some cost drawbacks to it relating to the technology and the age of the building,” said RDN chairman Ian Thorpe. “I can’t speak for the board, in terms of what their feelings are on it. I’m sure that everybody would say they’re all in favour of open governance and so on, but whether they see that … as a priority or not, I’m really not sure.”
Thorpe added if there was a public appetite and strong demand for it, he would not have any objections.
“To be honest, to this point, I haven’t heard that from the public, that they’re desperately seeking that, so I’d be very interested,” said Thorpe.
Nanaimo director and mayor Leonard Krog also acknowledged the importance of streaming RDN meetings. But he would like to see strong public support as well.
“The meetings are open to the public now, obviously… interestingly, as someone pointed out the other night, public hearings aren’t broadcast, although they are open to the public,” said Krog. “Live streaming? Dependent on cost, it’s not unreasonable. I mean we watch legislative debates live, we watch parliamentary debates live. Is there the interest in spending the money on the part of the public? There’s nothing to hide and indeed the public has a right to know what their politicians are doing. The question is, is there real public interest in doing it? I am sometimes disappointed obviously, as a politician by the lack of interest people pay to political affairs, so if this encourages people to pay more attention (it’s a) good thing.”
McLean’s motion was unanimously approved by the board.
— With files from Nanaimo News Bulletin