By Joe Fries
Not coming soon to a video screen near you: board meetings of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
Directors voted unanimously at a committee meeting Thursday to scrap plans to set up the room for webcasting after learning staff estimated the work would cost about $35,000 – well above the $5,000 that had been budgeted.
“Our position would be either let’s do this right, or not do it,” said chief administrative officer Bill Newell as he explained the staff recommendation to hold off.
Information services manager Tim Bouwmeester told the board a proper setup would require 23 microphones – one for each of the 19 directors, plus the CAO and delegates – a new amplification system, video camera and software.
He estimated the hardware would cost $10,700.
“We can get lower-end consumer-grade products that might put us into the $5,000 range,” said Mr. Bouwmeester, adding though that he has “concerns” about such a system because its failure could turn off viewers and reflect poorly on the RDOS.
Mr. Bouwmeester’s cost estimate also included $2,500 for a contractor to set up the equipment – “RDOS staff are not audio-visual experts” – and $22,000 to dig trenches in the floor of the board room in which the microphone wires would be placed so they don’t become a tripping hazard.
The RDOS, which provides services to about 83,000 people, is the only local government in the South Okanagan that doesn’t make audio or video available from its meetings.
In Osoyoos, all public Council meetings held in Council chambers are transmitted via government technology provider Granicus. Each meeting is transmitted live with recordings archived for later playback.
To the north, the Central Okanagan Regional District posts audio recordings of its meetings online, while the North Okanagan Regional District has neither audio nor video available.
Joe Fries is an editor and writer at the Penticton Herald. OsoyoosToday and the Herald share an informal editorial use agreement.