Livestream and video recordings of municipal meetings allow constituents immediate access to a greater amount of transparency and shouldn’t end when public council gatherings resume.
And I’m not talking about that tiny ‘fly on the far wall’ camera shot North Bay used to offer and Mattawa still uses. Each councillor should be seen up close and personal the entire meeting, just like the Brady Bunch squares now. Facial recognition is vital to communicating and being able to see reactions is important. Remember, not everybody can make it to the chamber room in person and they have a right to representation.
There are no excuses, it’s very easy to do with remote WiFi cameras attached to mics. Much of the technology has already been provided through their tax dollars.
Over the past seven months working with the BayToday crew, livestream and recorded meetings were streaming out my ears (Premier Doug Ford would reference his ‘ying-yang.’) Penance for past sins made it my job to monitor the ‘goings on’ in West Nipissing, Mattawa, East Ferris, Bonfield and other smaller townships like Calvin. Every. Week.
Aside from my very soul shriveling into decay by the bureaucratic minute, it was very interesting to see so many dedicated people swim upstream against their own flawed humanity. I tip my hat those who kept showing up, grinning and bearing the democratic burden each meeting.
For the residents of those communities, though, it opened doors and windows into their municipality they’d never have seen without this pandemic push to openness. I’ve covered council deliberations off and on for 30 years, usually I was one of a scant few unelected and non-staff heartbeats in attendance.
Today, with all the online options, there’s never been this many people engaged with town council issues. And I don’t think it’s because people are cooped up and have nothing better to do … although the slapstick lockdown and shutdown circus may have made everyone slightly more focused on local priorities and less likely to suffer fools gladly.
I can’t speak for my old employer at the Nugget, which also published my Local Journalism Initiative pieces this winter, but BayToday is celebrating a sustained 30-day page view average topping 5.3 million. At the beginning of the pandemic last year, they spiked to a record 4.5 million page views in one month.
The point is, people are more active online and municipal issues have become more important with a greater focus on their homes and local challenges. Elected officials should stop dreaming about getting out of the limelight when the emergency measures are withdrawn.
I’m so pleased to see you back in the column-writing, opinion business. Many of us have always valued your balanced, thoughtful and thought-provoking opinions.
Awesome website and Small Town EZ read newsletter. I’m going to look forward to it every week.
I really like the design work. Very clean. Simple. Devoid of clutter. I even looked at the advertisers page, and like what you did there. I’ve been wanting to revamp my websites and may give James Savard a call.
Have a great Easter Monday, Dave.
“Great stuff Dave, easy to find one’s way around, all good.”
I have known Dave Dale for many years and have always enjoyed his news reporting and his opinion pieces.
Great local Journalism is now more important than ever and we are indeed fortunate that Dave remains committed to his goal of informing and entertaining.
Good luck Dave with your new ventures and I continue to look forward to your next article or post.
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Writer, photographer and proud father. My mom’s family is from the Soo with its Algoma Highlands, dad hailed from Cobden in the Ottawa Valley and I spent my teen years in Capreol. Summers were at the beach on the Vermillion River and winters at ‘The Rink.’ Born in East York but Toronto never was my thing. Ever since a kid looking out the window on long trips, I imagined living on the highway in a little house with a big yard and trees growing all around me.