Clear streaming ahead for council

·2 min read

For most of 2020, the virtual council meetings had been next to impossible to listen in on. The live feed would cut in and out, or the voices garbled to the point you couldn’t decipher who was speaking or what was being said. For most, switching to online meetings was only temporary until restrictions were lifted and regular council meetings could resume. However, almost one year later, the restrictions are still in place. The way we communicate over the computer hasn’t changed either. Due to the meetings' convenience, live-streaming council meetings for the public may become a permanent way to engage the community long after restrictions are lifted.

Town councillors agreed unanimously during last year’s meeting on November 9, 2020, that the communication system in which they’re currently using to broadcast the council meetings lacks quality and would need an upgraded system. The motion was made to investigate an alternate solution that would improve how they stream the meetings for those watching and allow for audio and video clarity. After a few months of checking into systems, other municipalities use and talking with various media companies, a proposal was finally brought forth and approved by council during the February 22, 2021 council meeting.

The upgraded portable system selected consists of one Council microphone system and a chairperson gooseneck microphone and enough for nine other delegates. For video, a PTZ camera (pan, tilt, zoom camera) will be installed at the front of the room to capture the meeting in its entirety. The new equipment will be placed in the Protective Services Building, where the meetings are currently conducted. Once the social distancing restrictions are lifted, the councillors will move back to council chambers and take the new system with them.

By switching over to the new system, the council meetings can be broadcasted through the Town of Fox Creek’s website. A time frame has not been given when the network system will be up and functioning; however, Administration will share it with the public once it is set in place. The new audio/video system equipment’s overall cost is $40,000, which is eligible for funding from the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) Grant.

Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press