Questions surround local photojournalist possibly breaking municipal rules when investigating park bylaws

By Robert Washburn

Northumberland Today photojournalist Pete Fisher is on a crusade to stop all the bylaw violations going on in Victoria Park and Cobourg Beach for the past few years.

To fan the flames of public outrage, he takes pictures of illegal BBQs and overflowing trash cans as evidence of infractions and implied incompetence at town hall.

However, it appears Mr. Fisher may also be potentially breaking bylaws in his role when recording the evidence on his digital camera.

The town’s Parks Bylaw in Section 36 states:

36. Filming and Videotaping

“No person in any park shall take any pictures or produce any film, video tape, commercial, or program for remuneration, except wedding pictures, unless a permit has been issued for the production or filming by the Municipality.”

Does this mean he needs a permit to take these pictures? What about RibFest this weekend? Will local photojournalists need a permit to take photographs to capture this important fundraiser for the Rotary Club?

Photojournalists will tell you as long as they are on public property, they break no laws. But if he was standing on the beach or in the park while clicking his condemning photographs, it may have been a good thing no bylaw enforcement officers were around. Otherwise, he could be facing fines, too.

Like the other wording within the bylaw, it needs interpretation. But, until Municipal Clerk Lorraine Brace makes it clear, it does seem a bit confusing.

As for Fisher, this may be a case of the kettle calling the pot black.

Thanks to local blogger Ben Burd at the BurdReport.ca for pointing out the clause. Too much fun.