Alberni ponders webcasting council meetings

Webcasting Port Alberni City Council meetings will allow citizens to keep up on city council matters even over their cellphones.

Webcasting council meetings will allow citizens to keep up on city council matters during times that suit them, city information manager Jeff Pellech said.

At council’s Monday meeting, Pellech presented a report to council about the matter that they requested at an earlier meeting.

Councillors voted to ask Pellech to bring the request back during the 2013 budget deliberations.

Pellech received the request during the 2012 budget deliberations and interest in the idea has grown in popularity since.

Several municipalities including Nanaimo, Duncan and Kamloops webcast live council meetings, Pellech said.

Webcasting meetings allow citizens to stay apprised of business at home while they are out of town. Technology is also such that people can even view meetings over their cellphones. As well, archiving webcasts from anywhere from six months to one year will allow the flexibility of viewing meetings at times convenient to them, Pellech said.

The initiative will cost approximately $7,500, which would include one camera to start, camera controls and software as well a fee to a company that would stream the feed.

The project can be underwritten with either money from the Equipment Replacement Reserve Fund, or a $7,500 infusion into the information department’s operating fund.

The project does lend to the public’s request to be more open and accountable, Mayor John Douglas said.

Councillors Chopra and Solda were against the initiative. “The year is half over, why not defer this until the next budget,” Chopra said. Staff time is a hidden cost in the project, and there are people in the Valley who don’t have computers that need to be considered, Solda said.

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