Kudos to members of Niagara-on-the-Lake council and to town clerk Peter Todd for taking a strong position against a request to not publicly broadcast meetings of a town committee’s public meetings.
The suggestion by the town’s irrigation committee to allow its meetings to be held without cameras present is understandable, if misguided.
Some people who appear before that committee – and other municipal bodies – might feel uncomfortable about seeing information about them or their business publicly disseminated. That is natural, especially for people who might not be used to dealing with a municipal government.
We are not suggesting for a minute that the irrigation committee is trying to hide anything or stop the public from attending its meetings. But it is incumbent on all such public institutions to abide by the rules of the Municipal Act and do their utmost to make their operations easily and openly accessible to the public.
It is essential that the public’s business, in this case the delegations, debates and decisions of one of the Town of NOTL’s committees, be done as publicly and transparently as possible.
The irrigation committee is important to the operation of our town’s agricultural sector. While its meetings actually have never been covered by this newspaper and probably not by any other media organization, the idea of holding its public meetings out of sight of the public by not broadcasting them is simply not acceptable. And the town has said so unequivocally.
The town’s business, its decisions and debates, and how those decisions were arrived at are your business. Hence the need for transparency and full accessibility.