Councillor Judy Brown took a step forward Tuesday night to bring the Town of Perth into the 21st century. She tabled a motion to look at the benefits of the Town having a presence on social media, and the costs to administer it.
“We need to do a better job of engaging our citizens.”
Council, on the whole, supported her motion but with definite opinions on the dangers and pitfalls surrounding it.
“I am loathe to be part of the death of print media and newspapers,” Mayor Fenik said, adding that the Town would need to preserve the right “to deliver municipal government” as it should be delivered, and “not to engage in delivering governance over a facebook page.
“We need to have a sound policy that [we will not engage in] all the crap, trolls, abuses, and dark places. It is the way of the future but I think if we go down that path we will need to address the inequities of those who can’t afford computers and can’t be on the internet. I’ve always worried about that.”
Councillor Bird agreed the Town needs a media policy. “It’s a huge minefield. We need a media policy, we need people trained specifically in what not to put there, and what not to respond to. Whoever is managing this must be trained.”
At the moment Perth uses at least one facebook site for Perth Tourism. Shannon Baillon, Director of Community Services, explained that her staff takes care of this.
Councillor Smith agreed the Town needs a social media presence, adding “it’s not the way of the future, it’s here now.
Councillor Cameron is convinced that “if you want to find out stuff, you’ll find it out. You do what have to do to find out what you need.”
Brown commented that “legislation still does require us to put notices in newspapers for some things like planning changes. But we can cut back on using newspapers quite a bit; that would give us money to proceed with social media.
Baillon said she could present options and costs within a couple of months.