By Chad Ingram
Algonquin Highlands council has approved a video surveillance policy for the township, but has no plans to install surveillance cameras at this time.
Councillors heard a presentation from Haliburton County IT director Mike March during a Nov. 5 meeting.
“I started developing this video surveillance policy after our IT department began receiving requests to investigate video surveillance systems, at both the county and our local municipalities,” March said. County council adopted the policy in June, and it has since gone to its four lower-tier municipal councils for adoption.
“Obviously, due to the sensitive nature of collecting video surveillance in public areas, the risk of data breaches and proper uses, etc., I wanted to ensure that there was strong policy and process framework in place before we proceeded with any of these projects,” March said.
The policy lays out a series of guiding principles, and specifies how footage is collected, under which circumstances it may be shared with law enforcement, how information would be destroyed, etc.
Much of the substance of the policy came from the office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, and it has been reviewed by the county’s legal counsel.
“It’s just a preventative measure, there’s no intent at this time to install cameras unless council wants to do that, then that would become a budget item for further discussion,” said Mayor Carol Moffatt, who noted the township does have a webcam for security purposes at the Stanhope Airport.
“So basically what this does is just prepares us if we decide that we need, in any particular location, to put a camera up,” said Deputy Mayor Liz Danielsen.
A public consultation process would accompany the proposed installation of security cameras.
“Algonquin Highlands acknowledges the importance of public consultation when new or additional video surveillance systems are considered for Algonquin Highlands-owned buildings and property,” the policy reads. “The extent of public consultation may vary depending on the extent of public access.”