Going backwards on meeting access?

You have to hand it to Slave Lake’s town council. Having its meetings available to anyone, any time on Youtube was a bold move and at least once it has gotten them in a lot of trouble. But the practice continues. So far, at least, council seems to think that the more the public is engaged, the better, regardless of the risks.

Other councils have been doing the Zoom thing. You have to be invited, but anybody can apply and sit in, remotely. We’ve been covering the M.D. of Lesser Slave River council meetings this way for well over a year. It works well enough (minus some audio glitches) and is quite convenient. It is nowhere near as convenient as the Town of Slave Lake method, because you can’t go back and check your notes against the recorded version. Unless you get permission to record the Zoom meeting, which brings us to the M.D. of Opportunity.

The Leader has also been covering Opportunity council meetings for the better part of a year, via Zoom. But now we understand that council is considering an end to the practice. Apparently some councillors don’t like doing it, and want to go back to the traditional in-person meetings.

What this would mean, in effect, is that if you can’t attend in person, you’re out of luck.

It’s been interesting and informative getting to know the ins and outs of municipal government in M.D. 17, But there’s no way we can afford to spend every other Wednesday in Wabasca.

It took a pandemic to open up council meetings to more people. Shutting them down seems like turning out the lights and returning behind closed doors. People would still be welcome to attend in person, of course. But hardly anybody does.

As it turned out, council voted against the recommendation to stop allowing access to meetings via Zoom. The matter is to be revisited in a month or two.

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