The Village of Burns Lake has developed a policy that they say will help improve communication and maximize resources.
The policy sets out guidelines for the use of electronic devices for members of council during public and in camera council meetings.
The policy comes one month after councillors voted to implement paperless agendas.
As reported in Lakes District News edition of Feb. 1, 2012, Mayor Luke Strimbold and each of the four councillors received a one time payment of $500 towards the purchase of an electronic device such as an iPad to use during council meetings.
The initial purchase of the electronic devices came at a cost to tax payers of $2,500, but Stephanie Beerling village director of corporate services said going paperless will save approximately $2,607 per year in printing costs.
In camera agendas are still being provided to councillors in print form, to minimize any technical errors that could expose confidential information to the public.
According to the village’s electronics policy, the distribution of agendas and reading files to council will generally be electronic and members of council are expected to access village documents via electronic communication devices before and during meetings.
During public council meetings, councillors are not permitted to use electronic communications devices, such as cell phones or iPads, to access the internet, or to send or receive emails or text messages.
The policy states that urgent or emergency emails and text messages are allowed to be answered, but councillors must respond to them only during a meeting recess, or excuse themselves in a manner that does not disrupt the meeting.
As for confidential information, the policy states that members of council should minimize the use of email and instead use written memos, letters and phone calls to limit the transfer of information to unintended recipients.
The policy also states that members of council must not send or exchange any form of electronic communication with one another, or with members of the public during a council meeting.
The use of a recording device, either audio or visual is also not permitted by councillors during meetings, however Beerling said the same rule does not apply to the general public.
“Members of the public may use recording devices and electronic devices during meetings that are open to the public,” she confirmed.
She said, “Municipalities are just starting to adopt this type of electronic communication policy as they implement paperless agendas.”
“Our policy was modeled after similar policies used by municipalities in the United States.”
Beerling said that electronic communications during council meetings is not mandated by the Community Charter.
“Village of Burns Lake council meetings must adhere to the Village Procedure Bylaw. Council has requested that the Village Procedure Bylaw be reviewed this year and the updated bylaw may include reference to electronic communication similar to the language included in our electronic communications policy,” she added.