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Didsbury council considers banning photos, audio recordings

Draft bylaw proposes to ban unauthorized recordings at council meetings
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Didsbury mayor Rhonda Hunter said a legal opinion should be sought to determine if the municipality can actually prohibit recordings or photographs at public council meetings. File photo/MVP Staff

DIDSBURY - Didsbury town council has instructed administration to seek legal advice on proposed changes to rules and procedures for conducting council and committee meetings.

The draft updated bylaw 2020-12 was brought before council during a recent regularly scheduled council meeting.

The draft bylaw section 22 states: “If, for whatever reason, the CAO in consultation with the mayor deems a delegation request to not have merit, the requesting person will not be placed as a delegation on the council agenda.”

The draft bylaw section 23 states that a request to appear as a delegation would be “deemed to not have merit” if it “attacks administration or council, whether individually or as a group, if the matter is irrelevant to town business or not in the scope of local government” or if it is self-promoting or politicking.”

The draft bylaw section 33 regarding recording devices states: “No unauthorized video or audio recordings may be made of any portion of the council meeting. Similarly no unauthorized internet recordings or transmissions are to be made of any portion of the council meeting.

“Permission may be granted to news organization representative to use audio devices, from their seats, for the purposes of preparing their news stories. Such allowances will be at the discretion of the chair.”

The draft bylaw section 34 states: “No pictures may be taken of any portion of the council proceedings or interior of the council chambers. Permission may be granted to news organization representatives to take a picture that may be associated with a news story. Such allowances will be at the discretion of the chair.”

Mayor Hunter said a legal opinion should be sought to determine if the municipality can actually prohibit recordings or photographs at public council meetings.

Council passed a motion granting second reading to the bylaw, and sent it to the policy and governance committee for further consideration, including that a legal opinion be sought on the proposed legislation.

Development incentives considered

Meanwhile, council has given first reading to a bylaw establishing development incentives regarding off-site review for new developments until Dec. 31, 2023.

“Administration will set aside funds from the new taxation of these developments to reimburse the offsite levy reserves retiring 75 per cent of the levies in the first taxation year and the remaining in the second year,” said Ethan Gorner, the town's chief administrative officer. 

“In the unique event, that the levies are significantly more, then the internal reimbursement of these funds will be adjusted accordingly to ensure that they are reimbursed as soon as possible.”

The proposed bylaw will now go to committee before coming back to council.