County council meetings to be broadcast in perpetuity
By Chad Ingram
Published June 30, 2020
Haliburton County council will proceed with the purchase and installation of audiovisual equipment for council chambers so that when in-person meetings resume, they will be broadcast publicly on the internet.
During a June 24 meeting, councillors heard from county IT director Mike March regarding the process. During the COVID-19 crisis, council meetings have been taking place with councillors participating remotely via online conferencing platform Zoom and the meetings broadcast to the public on YouTube.
With most of the province entering what the provincial government refers to as Stage 2 of its COVID-19 recovery process, gatherings may now consist of up to 10 people. Since county council consists of eight members (the mayors and deputy mayors of each of its four lower-tier municipalities), it means that council could technically resume in-person meetings.
“However, we wouldn’t be able to have members of the public attend,” March said, explaining that delegations from members of the public would continue to be received via Zoom.
“COVID or post-COVID, I think this evolution sets us up for the future,” said Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin. “ . . . This is a logical step and would be helpful.”
Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts said she agreed, and noted she’d received positive feedback about Dysart et al’s online meetings since they are easily accessible to the public.
Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt, who noted it was probably time for her to get over her reluctance regarding live-streaming meetings, said she was unsure about reconvening meetings at this point in time.
Councillors eventually agreed that for the time being, they would continue to meet remotely via Zoom.
“It’s all well and good when we’re in the council chambers,” said Minden Hills Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell, but noted that smaller common areas such as the kitchen and hallway leading to the washrooms could be trickier to navigate in terms of maintaining appropriate physical distancing.
Two cameras will be purchased and installed in council chambers, with one camera focused on the council table and one on the podium where staff members and members of the public will make presentations once in-person delegations are able to resume. In the meantime, councillors would watch delegates on the monitors that are mounted on the walls. The cameras will be connected to computer and audio equipment that will allow for live streams to be broadcast.
The project has an upset limit of $15,000, but March indicated he anticipated it could be done for less than $10,000.
Chad Ingram, Staff