Maple Ridge needs to catch up online

The District of Maple Ridge doesn’t care that voters and taxpayers can’t watch council in real time.

Many people don’t know or care that they can’t watch broadcasts of Maple Ridge council in real time, via webcast, as the vast majority of Metro Vancouver municipalities now allow.

Let’s face it, except for the committed watchdogs who follow local government, there are  more interesting items to follow.

The District of Maple Ridge doesn’t care, nor do most on council, that voters and taxpayers can’t watch council in real time because the topic hasn’t even come up for discussion.

But it’s troubling for a municipality that should be open and transparent. And it’s troubling for the thousands of hard-working taxpayers who expect Maple Ridge to keep up with the current trends and allow  voters another chance to be engaged.

Currently, Maple Ridge videotapes only its regular council and its committee meetings and posts those on its website a few days later.

Yet in this fast-moving information age, waiting a few days, or longer, depending on staff workload, for video of the meeting is almost like forever. It’s enough to discourage many who want to follow a debate from bothering.

At council’s open Monday morning workshops, where there’s more debate and where many decisions are made, there is neither audio nor video recording, although staff are checking into costs for equipping the room. Instead, council and staff sit at a table and have substantive discussions, sometimes in barely audible tones.

That’s less than complete transparency as councillors create consensus without any recording showing how they did so.

Today, transparency means being online. Maple Ridge needs to match its peers and get up to date.

– The News