by Chris Pickup

For those residents of Haldimand who cannot go to full day council-in-committee meetings or evening council meetings, because of work or other commitments, the only option to view council proceedings on important matters is to watch on the cable channel, or buy a DVD from the county.

Unfortunately, for the large number of residents who live in the rural areas, cable is unobtainable so they are left with needing to buy a DVD for which the county charges $29.10 including tax.

This is viewed by many residents as a total rip-off, especially as the DVDs are of poor quality to the point councillors’ nameplates are unreadable. So Cayuga resident Bonnie Stephens polled neighbouring municipalities to see how they handle the problem.

Emma Vokes in Norfolk asked if Stephens was interested in a particular meeting, so she explained why she was asking.  “Before I identified my County, Vokes said, “Oh, Haldimand,” so she knew something about our situation,” Stephens said.

Norfolk:  Do not burn DVDs; they live stream their Council meetings on YouTube.  So of course, no DVD available at their library.

Thorold :  Can burn a DVD for $10. + HST.  DVD not available at library because City live streams Council meetings on YouTube.  Visit Thorold.com homepage and click on live stream.  All of the 2017 Council meetings are available and one can also access all of 2016 meetings from this site.

Brant :  Video of Council meetings available via live stream on YouTube.  Go to Brant.ca/live .  Can access past meetings as well.

Welland :  Welland tapes their Council meetings and can burn a DVD for $20.00.  No DVD is provided to the library, but you can view their recording for free at their City Hall.

Stephens exchanged several emails with Haldimand’s county clerk, Evelyn Eichenbaum, back in the Fall, one of her concerns being that unreliable, poor quality, expensive DVDs of council meetings would continue to be the norm for Haldimand County until the new administration building was completed.

“In your October 4, 2017 email response to me,” Stephens noted,  “you advised that, “. . . staff intend to move to a different platform in the future which will provide increased accessibility to those meetings via some form of streaming through the internet.  . . . and I understand that there is some preliminary work being done to determine whether we can move this option in the short-term, prior to completion of the new administration building.  When there is information available about moving to the new platform, I will ensure that the information is forwarded to you.”

It seems Haldimand, for all its vaunted progressive outlook, is still back in the dark ages with its DVDs, with their charges adding to the County coffers at residents’ expense.  Other counties are live streaming on YouTube for free.

As Stephens wrote to Eichenbaum the other day, “A new year is upon us and it has been over three months now since I have heard from you.  Could you please let me know how the determination of a short-term solution for achieving an easily accessible, decent quality offering of council meetings is progressing?  Exactly what method does staff favour and how far along are staff and council towards implementing the new platform?”