Written By: Tuesday, September 22nd 2015

Michael Schmidt addressing West Grey council Monday night

An appearance at West Grey council did little to calm the fears of several Durham area residents, regarding surveillance cameras found along Concession 2.

Dairy farmer Micheal Schmidt questioned the legality of installing such cameras on public property without giving notice to the municipality.

Mayor Kevin Eccles and the rest of council admitted they didn’t know but they’re standing with the police on this one.

Police Chief Rene Berger has told Schmidt he knows who owns the cameras and there is no criminal intent and that should be the end of it.

Schmidt has filed a complaint with the Ontario Independent Police Review board…

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The cameras contain thousands of images of people going by on foot, on bikes and in vehicles.

They’re reportedly with Schmidt’s lawyer at the moment.

He’s been told if he doesn’t give them back, he could be facing charges of theft.

When Schmidt questioned council on the legality of the cameras being on public property, they admitted they didn’t know but they were with the chief on this one.

Schmidt says he is not confident they will get any satisfaction from council because they’re “bureaucrats”; something he says he’s been dealing with for 20 years.

He’s already filed a complaint with the Ontario Independent Police Review Director to investigate the issue mostly in regards to what he calls the negligence of the chief saying he’s not addressing the concern of residents that there are cameras on the road where their children walk to school.

Schmidt has been told that if he doesn’t give back the cameras, which are currently with his lawyer, he could be charged with theft.

Ironically… the farmer says if that happens it could help him get to the bottom of the whole thing.

He says at that point he can ask for the disclosure necessary to defend himself.

“I am not afraid of charges”, Schmidt says.

He also says so far he has not received a response from M-P-P Bill Walker or M-P Larry Miller on the issue.

Schmidt says he’s also launched a Freedom of Information request.

Meanwhile neighbour David Sugarman who turned out to support Schmidt Tuesday night says his kids attend Edgehill school up the road and he drives the concession regularly.

He too is upset with the Police Chief who he says isn’t even investigating.

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He feels they’re not protecting the children and residents of West Grey but rather someone who is performing an illegal act.

“You can’t film in public like that without notifying people”, Sugarman says.

Buildings have signs on them to tell you you’re being filmed.

He too is pursuing the issue with police and has a request in with the Privacy Commissioner and in the new year, with the Ontario Ombudsman, just as soon as they take on municipal affairs.

“I will be the first in line”.

Resident Andrew Smith also went to West Grey Police but was told the Chief was unavailable for comment.

One of the cameras was found just south of his farm.

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He says there’s likely thousands of images of him, his daughters and grandchildren and he wants to know who and why.