Callander has updated policies regarding camera surveillance to ensure continued compliance with Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA).
The “intent” of the town’s policy is to ensure that video surveillance “is for the purpose of safety and security” while “protecting the privacy of individuals,” explained Fire Chief Todd Daley, in his report to council during their July 27 meeting.
As Callander is “committed to public safety, crime prevention, and stewardship of publicly owned assets,” the municipality “may use video surveillance systems on municipal property” to prevent crime, Chief Daley added.
Privacy and public safety can be at odds, as sometimes people are captured on video who are simply walking by.
In designing their policy, the municipality consulted with FIPPA and MFIPPA regulations, as well as adopting guidelines from the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.
Cameras can only be installed in identified public areas, and only after the installation is deemed justified based of specific reports or incidents of vandalism, crime, or inappropriate behaviour.
The images recorded will not include private property. Only public property can be captured by cameras installed by the municipality.
Signs will be posted within the region cameras are recording to inform the public surveillance is in full effect.
The monitors used to view the video will be kept in a controlled area and away from the public. “Only authorized persons have access to the video reception equipment,” Chief Daley explains in his report, and the monitors will not be watched live. Footage will only be seen if an incident occurring at that location warrants review.
Video records will be kept on a hard drive, and should an investigating agency require “the entire contents of the hard drive they shall be required to provide a warrant before contents are released,” the policy outlines.
Recordings are held for 30 days, then the data is overwritten with new video.
Footage used in an investigation may be retained for one year from the date of viewing.
Tim McKenna, manager of operations, “involved with this project from the start,” explained that cameras have been in use within the community for some time.
“We’ve always had a surveillance system at our community centre,” he said, covering the grounds and the parking lot.
Last year, he noticed people “gathering in the parking lot in their hot-rod Hondas doing doughnuts in the parking lot,” which revealed “a flaw in our camera system.”
“We weren’t able to zoom in on any of the license plates,” McKenna said, so while revising their overall policies to regulate camera use, the town also took the opportunity to upgrade cameras as well.
David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca