Moose Jaw city council discusses local issues in council chambers at city hall during a regular council meeting. Carter Haydu photograph
Shaw Cable has done, and continues to do, a great job broadcasting live feeds of regular council meetings, as well as reruns of those meetings later on during the week. However, unless one is a Shaw subscriber, one currently cannot see these valuable broadcasts of council meetings in their entireties.
For many Moose Javians, the alternatives to actually sitting in council chambers during the biweekly council meetings at city hall is to read stories about those meeting in the Times-Herald or hear stories on CHAB (or visit the local newspaper’s or radio station’s accompanying websites).
As high quality coverage as local media might provide in regards to council meetings, the simple fact is there is not enough word space or air time in the world to report on every minute detail from council. Meetings can span several hours and include entire universes of drama, so no doubt the best way for citizens to appreciate municipal politics is in its entirety.
During Monday’s regular council meeting, council approved the following motion: “That city council direct city administration to provide a proposal to executive committee for having city council meetings broadcast on the website live during council meetings if possible, and/or a video playback available online for citizens after the meeting.”
Would the city work out a deal with Shaw to gain access to video for online publication? Is such an added service to the city’s website even something Shaw Cable would seriously consider? Would there in fact be a large enough number of people interested in online access to full council meetings to make it a worthwhile endeavour?
These are all important questions. In regards to the first two, Coun. Dawn Luhning indicated on Monday night that Shaw very likely might be receptive to an agreement with the city. In regards to the latter question, even if few people would actually go online to watch webcasts of council meetings, it’s still a good idea.
It is important citizens have, at the very least, access to unedited government proceedings. It’s an important part to democracy and, aside from making council chambers open to everyone, providing ready access via the Internet furthers the transparency cause.
However, even if it turns out the city can’t put these recordings online, there is the opportunity for one to see an entire council meeting. Aside from subscribing to Shaw, the best way to do so is to spend a Monday evening at council chambers watching the six councillors, mayor and senior administration do that magic they do so well.
It is, after all, the best show in town.