Thursday, July 18, 2024
July 18, 2024

Editorial: Livestreaming improves democracy

The Gulf Islands Board of Education will join the 21st century this fall when school trustees’ business meetings will be livestreamed for viewing online.

School District 64 is late to the party when it comes to making its discussions and decisions easily accessible for those who don’t have the time or ability to attend a meeting in person. School board meetings have traditionally taken place at least once per year on the four “outer islands,” as they are still referred to by the district, and the rest of the time on Salt Spring. Starting in September, all regular business meetings will take place in the school board office on Salt Spring where internet transmission can be reliably done. Trustees and administrators will still visit Saturna, Mayne, Pender and Galiano, but for committee meeting and information-sharing purposes only.

The change of process is a positive one and we applaud SD64 for taking the steps required to make it happen.

Watching public officials and staff from any form of government crawl through a lengthy agenda (and when the audio quality is sometimes sub-par) may not be many people’s idea of a worthwhile way to spend their time. But outside of attending such meetings live in the flesh — which a few Salt Spring residents do quite religiously — it’s the only way to get a sense of what the people we elect are really doing and saying as they fulfill their duties to their constituents. It’s easy to look at the posted agendas online and see if anything of interest is listed and check in to watch those items alone.

This week Salt Spring Islanders have the opportunity to see Islands Trust Council in person, when 26 trustees from 13 islands in the federation plus senior Trust staff meet at the Harbour House until early Thursday afternoon. With the sheer number of voices needing to be heard, council proceedings may be unwieldy at times, but also offer a fascinating look at how elected officials communicate and make decisions.

Democracy may not offer rivetting entertainment most days, but the more people paying attention at any level the better the system works. We encourage fellow islanders to tune in either online or, when possible, with their bum in an actual meeting-room seat.

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