ARICHAT: The discussion over whether to allow recorded versions of council meetings to be broadcast led to a debate over the return of in-person meetings.
Telile Community Television in Arichat will now be able to broadcast ZOOM recordings of the committee-of-the-whole and regular monthly meetings of Richmond Municipal Council.
During a committee-of-the-whole meeting on September 14, council received a letter dated September 2 from the chair of the Telile board, Allister Jollymore, who pointed out there are many residents without adequate Internet access to the municipality’s Web site.
“Telile is trying to help with the openness and transparency council has been working on over the past number of years,” the letter stated. “If the meetings are being held virtually, we do not expect to receive compensation for airing the meetings. We strongly believe the citizens of Richmond County are missing hearing for themselves the discussions around the table.”
Telile general manager Cora LeBlanc told council that despite the technical glitches of the virtual meetings, it is important that council proceedings are available to as many people as possible.
Since some public health restrictions have been relaxed, district 1 councillor James Goyetche questioned why council meetings are no longer being held in-person at the municipal building in Arichat. He requested that the idea be considered for future meetings.
“We can bring up to 45, I think, in the council chambers, it’s just a matter of re-arranging the seating in the council chambers, and allowing the public in, up to a certain number of people,” he said. “I think this could solve the whole problem of televising our meetings.”
Chief Administrative Officer Don Marchand responded that under current rules, council can hold in-person meetings, but the limit would have to be less than 45 people.
“We would have to rearrange the council chamber,” he acknowledged. “As you stated earlier, there is a limit of 45, but certainly we wouldn’t be able to have 45 people in there and conform to the regulations set down by the province.”
Because of the amount of interest in council issues, Warden Brian Marchand said the municipality wants to make meetings available to as many people as possible, and he remains open to the possibility of in-person meetings in the future.
“The reason of wanting to go virtual tonight was because we weren’t sure of how many [would attend],” he said. “We heard there was a lot of e-mails and requests. We were going to put it on our Web site, so we didn’t know how many were coming. So we didn’t want to be turning people back at the door.”
Because of the possibility of a second wave, district 5 councillor Jason MacLean suggested that meetings remain virtual, for the time being and they should be provided to Telile.
At the regular session which took place virtually Monday night, council voted unanimously allow the recordings of the meetings to be broadcast via Telile.