Centre Wellington adopts new video surveillance policy

ELORA – Centre Wellington has a new video surveillance policy.

“The purpose … is to establish guidelines and procedures for using video camera surveillance equipment on the property and/or in any buildings owned or operated by the township,” clerk Kerri O’Kane said at the Nov. 18 committee of the whole meeting.

The existing policy was adopted by council in 2013. Due to technological advancements, new facilities and the equipment required, a new more comprehensive police is needed.

“We have introduced a policy to address requirements and responsibilities with respect to the installation of video surveillance systems, the operation of those video surveillance systems, the use of the information obtained through video surveillance systems and the custody, control and access to those records created through the video control surveillance,” O’Kane said.

“The use of the video surveillance system to enhance security and specific camera positions will be determined on a basis of reasonable and justifiable grounds or the provision of safety and security.

“Those cameras and recording devices are intended to complement and support other methods of operations for public safety, aid in risk management and reduce crime at municipal facilities.”

Councillor Stephen Kitras asked how staff felt about being recorded.

“The intent of this policy is not to monitor staff. So it will not be used for that purpose,” O’Kane said. “The cameras will be angled in such a way as it may capture staff but it is not intended to be angled specifically to monitor staff’s activities.”

CAO Andy Goldie added people may be the focus of some video cameras, for example when cash transactions occur. However, the purpose of the video is to act as evidence in the case of theft.

“There is no intention with regards to the staff, monitoring what they’re doing at their desks,” he said. “It’s strictly from a security piece, also protecting staff from the fact that if somebody does come and rob them we have the evidence  to be able to charge.”

Councillor Neil Dunsmore asked if the public had to consent to being recorded. O’Kane said proper signage must be posted so people are aware they are being recorded.

“They will be directed to the policy to know how that, how then the image is collected and how it is protected,” she said. “The protection of that privacy is paramount. Everything else is secondary.”

Dunsmore also asked about the suggested 14-day retention of videos.

“I’d hate to see we destroy it after 14 days and 30 days later somebody says ‘hey do you have a video of the parking lot out there?’ And it’s been overwritten,” he said.

O’Kane said a 14-day retention is pretty standard.

“We really do not want to hang onto that information beyond that time period,” O’Kane said. “So if there is a law enforcement request they know to come to the office, they know to complete the proper paperwork … they have to request it through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy process.”

Any new equipment would come through the budget process.

Mayor Kelly Linton said the policy needs to be in place before any resources can be allocated to new cameras.

“It’s important for us to update the policy so we’re ready when staff want to replace that equipment and add to the new facilities that we have,” O’Kane said.

The new policy was unanimously passed by council.