Original Published on Jul 13, 2022 at 05:28

By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

ST. MARY’S – Lights, cameras and action are coming to local government in St. Mary’s thanks to recent provincial measures that require all Nova Scotia municipalities to film council meetings for public viewing when physical attendance is not possible.

Since COVID, St. Mary’s has only audio recorded its meetings and posted them to its website. But municipal staff are now advising elected officials to add live video to its media mix under specific circumstances.

“Whenever council conducts meetings … through Zoom, or any other [virtual] method … [councillors] need to be seen and heard by all [members] of the public,” Chief Administrative Officer Marissa Jordan told the July 6 committee of whole meeting.

“If everybody [on council] is attending virtually and there’s no physical location for the public to show up, then a video of the meeting needs to be out there to the public. If [one] councillor wants to virtually attend a council meeting [otherwise being held] in chambers, then the public also needs to see and hear that [councillor].”

Bill 98, passed last April, puts it this way: “Electronic means [must enable] the public to see and hear the meeting as it is occurring; and all the meeting participants to see and hear each other.” What’s more, “a council member or council committee member may participate in a council meeting or council committee meeting through electronic means if [this] enables the public to see and hear the member as the meeting is occurring.”

Said Jordan: “Going forward with any of our council and committee meetings, we need to ensure, first of all, that we have the technology to do that, as well as making sure we follow any other provisions [such as] extra requirements for posting if [a meeting] is going to be [completely] virtual.”

Council approved replacing its video conferencing and teleconferencing policy with the new virtual meeting policy without dissent.

This item reprinted with permission from The Journal, Guysborough, Nova Scotia