Controversy erupts over videotaping

A heated confrontation over videotaping a public hearing on a proposed RV resort new Sunbreaker Cove has prompted a review of Lacombe County’s meeting rules.

A heated confrontation over videotaping a public hearing on a proposed RV resort new Sunbreaker Cove has prompted a review of Lacombe County’s meeting rules.

The issue came to a head March 4 at a hearing on Skyy Country’s proposal to develop 423 recreation vehicle lots and 84 day-use lots and a nine-hole, par-three golf course. An audience member asked to be allowed to videotape the meeting but was refused by the chairman, county Reeve Terry Engen. The county has not previously allowed the taping or recording of public hearings.

That decision apparently did not go over well.

“While we were eventually able to convince this person that we were not going (to) allow for the taping of the public hearing, it required a heated confrontation to achieve the desired results,” says a report to council from county commissioner Terry Hager.

He told council Thursday that the existing informal policy would not stand up to scrutiny.

“At some point we’re going to get national media and they’re not going to accept it.”

Councillor Rod McDermand said other municipalities allow council and other types of meetings to be videotaped.

“Everybody is basically allowing the press to do their thing. I don’t see why we would be any different?”

Hager said some residents attending a public hearing may not want to state their views if they knew the cameras were on them, which would be a disservice to the public hearing process.

Council voted to ask administration to review the issue and draft a set of rules for the recording of all county meetings, including council, municipal planning commission, public hearings and subdivision development appeals among others.

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