I support efforts to enable the recording of OMB hearings

In February 2015 I had the occasion to attend an Ontario Municipal Board hearing concerned with Long Branch where I live.

A number of people have commented regarding the behaviour of the OMB board member at the meeting that I attended.

Anecdotal evidence suggests, with reference to their behaviour at OMB meetings, that some OMB board members can be characterized as viewing the OMB hearing rooms as akin to the ward fiefdoms that have been identified, in a Jan. 15, 2015 report, as a feature of the Toronto District School Board.

It would be in the public interest to have the opportunity to record meetings of the Ontario Municipal Board. The opportunity to record such meetings would enable members of the public, and reporters, to document what occurs at such hearings in contrast to depending upon anecdotal evidence. Memories are malleable but a recording helps us to remember what has occurred.

Accountability of OMB board members

Recordings of such meetings would also serve to enhance the accountability of OMB board members, with reference to whatever their job description entails – in the event that such a job description exists. If what I observed, at the meeting I attended in February 2015, accords with the job description for OMB board members, I would enjoy reading such a document. It would make for compelling reading. By way of genre, I would predict that such a document would resonate strongly with the celebrated literary output of the prose writer Franz Kafka.

A related topic concerns performance reviews. The thought occurs: “Are there performance reviews in place for OMB board members? If so, does what occur at OMB hearings have a bearing on the outcome of such reviews? What oversight or review has been mandated with regard to the performance of such quasi-judicial officials?”

Transcripts of recordings

What I have witnessed, and what other residents have witnessed, in particular at a meeting that I attended in February 2015 would, in my view, be hard to believe had I not witnessed it. I have the sense that if what transpired were to be explained to a neutral observer, the observer would tend to find it hard to believe.

On the other hand, if a person had been able to access a recording or transcript, that person would be able to acquire a good understanding of what took place, at that meeting.

It’s my understanding that what was observed was not an isolated occurrence.

Academic study of the Ontario Municipal Board

Recordings would also be of value for linguistic anthropologists among other academics seeking to understand the back story and history of an institution such as the Ontario Municipal Board.

Audio and video recording

By way of summary what was witnessed at a February 2015 OMB meeting that I attended would have benefitted from being recorded, in my view.

Thus a question arises.

“If the meetings of the City of Toronto Council can be recorded, and the meetings of Community Council meetings can be recorded, what stands in the way of the recording of meetings of the Ontario Municipal Board?”

 

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