A concerned Gravenhurst resident has approached council to consider developing a by-law to address privacy concerns regarding home security cameras.
Liz Allard represented herself at the Jan. 17 Committee of the Whole meeting, saying she became aware of “improper placement and aiming of cameras on one property which resulted in excessive coverage of the neighbouring backyard, including the back of the house and the right window to the master bedroom.” This resulted in “friction between the neighbours involved.”
Allard said that as home security cameras have become increasingly popular to deter home invasion and thefts in her neighbourhood, the municipality does not yet have any guidelines or by-laws in place. “Given the right to privacy that we should expect in our backyards and the increased use of surveillance technology for home protection, I believe it’s time to address this issue.”
While researching the topic, Allard said she found that the Ontario Municipalities Act was amended in 1990 to include an article that “gave municipalities the authority to regulate and prohibit excessive fortification of land.”
She noted that many Ontario municipalities did subsequently draft by-laws that “specifically regulate and prohibit the positioning of cameras that take footage of neighbouring properties.” Allard gave council a list of these municipalities and also an article from 2015 detailing how an Oshawa couple was charged after having applied “excessive protection to elements to land.” She said that while that particular example was “extreme,” she believed “it outlines the intent of such a by-law.”
Coun. Varney asked what had happened with the Gravenhurst neighbours, and if by-law officers had been called. Allard said no, that because there was no by-law in place, police were instead called and “the outcome was messy…the police didn’t really know how to proceed, there was a lot of back-and-forth and the aggrieved party was not happy.”
Allard requested council draft a suitable by-law. Mayor Lorenz said that the issue would be tabled for discussion.
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