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Yellowknife city councillor proposes using security cameras as webcams

One Yellowknife city councillor wants to see the city's security cameras used for more than security — he wants everybody to be able to log on and watch.

Idea comes up during discussion of security camera policy

Yellowknife City Coun. Niels Konge says his suggestion could allow people to watch their friends of family take part in sports events at city venues like the multiplex or fieldhouse. (Walter Strong/CBC)

One Yellowknife city councillor wants to see the city's security cameras used for more than security — he wants everybody to be able to log on and watch.

Coun. Niels Konge floated the idea during Monday's municipal services committee meeting.

"The cameras that are in public places ... would there be any reason why we couldn't have a website where people can go online and see what's happening out there?" he asked.

Council was discussing a proposed security camera policy drafted in wake of allegations city staff had used them to spy on residents.

The city shut off the cameras on Jan. 18 in response to the allegations.

The new policy will include: an analysis of need for each camera before they are turned back on; mandatory signage about their placement; and rules that state footage captured by the cameras be maintained by city staff and only shared with third parties in accordance with legislation.

Couns. Linda Bussey, Shauna Morgan and Julian Morse all indicated they were happy with the proposed policy.

'You can't be watching the videos just for fun'

In an interview with CBC on Tuesday, Konge said he's not concerned about privacy issues because the cameras would only record in public places.

"[Webcams] are certainly more and more common," he said.

"And it certainly puts out an awareness to the public that everything that happens in this building is really, really public."

At Monday's meeting, Kerry Penney, director of policy, communications and economic development for the city, said the cameras are designated to be used for security purposes, meaning they can't legally be used for anything else.

"You can't be watching the videos just for fun, if you want to put it bluntly," she said.

Yellowknife's senior administrative officer, Sheila Bassi-Kellett, told Konge the city could look at repurposing some cameras as webcams.

Konge suggested that webcams placed in venues such as the city's Fieldhouse and Multiplex could allow viewers to watch sports competitions involving friends or family, pointing to similar installations in southern provinces used for tournaments or swim meets.

Konge told CBC he's not convinced administration realizes his request was serious.

"I think they think I was maybe just making a snide comment," he said.

"I say lots of things that people can't believe that I actually mean."

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