A longtime resident is calling foul after some videos of Surrey council meetings have vanished from the city’s website.
“It’s gone? That’s the same as shredding important government documents…. I was shocked to find that they are gone,” said Grant Rice, who ran for mayor in the last civic election.
Rice told the Now he went online to view a past meeting for background information on a public hearing application he planned to speak against on Monday night (Nov. 21), and that’s when he learned some videos were missing.
Videos are only available on the city’s website from Sept. 12 onward. There is also a link to YouTube for videos of council meetings between January and July 2016.
Though he was assured that minutes from all meetings are still available, that’s of little comfort to Rice.
“I was part of the Surrey Association of Sustainable Communities. It was all the community associations who met monthly and pushed for civic changes. This was one of our key things,” Rice said.
The reason the community groups pushed for the videos was because some were unhappy with how they were represented in the city minutes, he explained.
“Back in 2001, a guy used to videotape them and put them on VHS because he was upset about how minutes were unrepresentative of what was actually being said,” Rice said.
On Wednesday, Surrey City Clerk Jane Sullivan confirmed some videos are missing. That’s because when switching providers, the city had a hard time retrieving videos, she said.
“So what we did is we took six months,” Sullivan explained. “We had a devil of a time converting them and making them work.”
Sullivan said when the city began streaming in 2010, videos were archived online, but only for two years. And, she added, many videos can be found on YouTube by searching “Surrey council meeting” and a year.
Sullivan said minutes of council meetings are all available.
“They’re the official record,” she added. “They’re always there. And they’ve been there since the 1880s.”
But Rice said he’ll be continuing to push the city to retrieve the video files. “You can’t let these videos escape. These are public record, they’re not owned by the city.”