Thankfully Regional District of North Okanagan directors didn’t come off looking like Big Brother.
A plan requiring residents wanting to audio or video record meetings to get the board chairperson’s permission first was shot down.
First off, it would have been impossible to stop someone from recording the meeting on their phone unless all electronic devices were confiscated at the door.
And do regional district staff want to really be perceived as restricting basic rights — speech, assembly and holding your elected officials accountable?
There were concerns that someone could maliciously take a video and edit it to the point that it doesn’t reflect the actual meeting, and portrays directors negatively. And while that could happen given modern technology, does that rare situation take precedence over someone who legitimately wants a record of what transpired at a meeting?
It should also be pointed out that there were no plans to restrict the use of paper and pen, but the written word can be edited and purposely taken out of context if the writer so wishes.
The bottom line is most gatherings of RDNO officials are public and residents have a right to be there. They also have a right to record what occurs.
And while the thrust of the proposed policy was to make RDNO directors aware that they’re being recorded, they should know that by simply being who they are, they are in the public eye. And with a recorder on every phone these days, that means they may star in a video.
The onus is on RDNO to adjust to a public that wants transparency, and not a public that must adjust to bureaucratic rules.