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Electronic recordings of Mountain View County meetings could be kept for future access

As Mountain View County continues its transition to video recording of council meetings, the county’s retention schedule for electronic recordings will also be required to be updated

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - At today's council meeting council members are expected to further consider the possibility of having electronic recordings of council meetings retained for future public access, unlike the current system where the recordings are destroyed following the meetings.

Under current policy 16/20 ‘Record Management Bylaw’ electronic recordings are only used for transitory purposes to ensure that meeting minutes are created accurately.

The bylaw also includes verbiage to outline that electronic recordings are only transitory documents and then subsequently destroyed following the adoption of the respective council meeting minutes, which are treated as official record.

During the recent council meeting, council members and administration discussed the possibility of having the recordings retained for set periods of time.

“As Mountain View County continues its transition to video recording of council meetings, the county’s retention schedule for electronic recordings will also be required to be updated,” said chief administrative officer Jeff Holmes. 

“Bylaw 16/20 permits for administration to develop and amend the retention scheduled as needed, however as the video recording of council meetings is a council initiative, administration is seeking input from council on what level of retention for recordings is appropriate.”

Administration outlined three possible directions for possible retention.

• One year - recordings could be retained for one year to allow residents to view recent discussions only. After one year the recordings would not longer be made publicly available.

• Four years - recordings could be retained for four years to align with the council term to recognize that some discussions span the entire duration of the council term, but following a municipal election, the recording is tied to discussions of that specific council and is not binding on future council. After the four year time period the recordings would no longer be made publicly available.

• Permanent - Recordings could be retained permanently in alignment with council meeting minutes. 

Council meeting minutes are currently kept permanently by the county and that process is expected to continue.

Council members held a discussion of the matter of the recording retention during the recent council meeting.

Coun. Jennifer Lutz said, “I think two years would be about right. I not sure I would look at four years or not. I wonder if there is a happy medium there.”

Coun. Greg Harris said, “I know in my own particular case new information and rethinking things has caused a change in position and then what you have out there is recordings for four years that can be pulled out and used (and say) ‘well you said that back then and you said this now.’ So one, maybe maximum two would be my preference.”

Asked by Coun. Gord Krebs whether there would be a cost to retaining for one, two, three or four year, Chris Atchison, director of legislative services, said no.

Coun. Peggy Johnson asked if administration has looks at what other jurisdictions are doing when it comes to recording retention.

Some municipalities are retaining recordings permanently and others are treating them as transitory records and getting rid of them fairly quickly, said Atchison.

“There is a whole range, from treating them in a one-meeting or two-meeting cycle all the way to keeping them for hundreds of years,” he said.

Members of the public can currently attend and record open council meeting proceedings.

Council tabled the matter to the Nov. 16 council meeting.

“Once council determines what it believes is an appropriate duration, administration will time retention schedule amendments to the launch of video recordings/live streaming of council meetings, likely in late November,” said Holmes.

Dan Singleton

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