By Chad Ingram
Haliburton County council will proceed with the purchase andinstallation of audiovisual equipment for council chambers so that whenin-person meetings resume they will be broadcast publicly on theinternet.
During a June 24 meeting councillors heard from county IT director Mike March regarding the process. During the COVID-19 crisiscouncil meetings have been taking place with councillors participatingremotely via online conferencing platform Zoom and the meetingsbroadcast to the public on YouTube.
With most of the provinceentering what the provincial government refers to as Stage 2 of itsCOVID-19 recovery process gatherings may now consist of up to 10people. Since county council consists of eight members (the mayors anddeputy mayors of each of its four lower-tier municipalities) it meansthat council could technically resume in-person meetings.
“Howeverwe wouldn’t be able to have members of the public attend” March saidexplaining that delegations from members of the public would continue to be received via Zoom.
“COVID or post-COVID I think this evolutionsets us up for the future” said Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin. “ … This is a logical step and would be helpful.”
Dysart et al MayorAndrea Roberts said she agreed and noted she’d received positivefeedback about Dysart et al’s online meetings since they are easilyaccessible to the public.
Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffattwho noted it was probably time for her to get over her reluctanceregarding 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 MindenHills Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell but noted that smaller common areas such as the kitchen and hallway leading to the washrooms could be trickierto navigate in terms of maintaining appropriate physical distancing.
Two cameras will be purchased and installed in council chambers with onecamera focused on the council table and one on the podium where staffmembers and members of the public will make presentations once in-person delegations are able to resume. In the meantime councillors wouldwatch delegates on the monitors that are mounted on the walls. Thecameras will be connected to computer and audio equipment that willallow for live streams to be broadcast.
The project has an upset limit of $15000 but March indicated he anticipated it could be done for less than $10000.