Saanich approves just over $200,000 for new multi-media system

Saanich arguably entered the 21st century Monday as council approved a new media system that allows webcasts of its meetings among other features.

“It has taken two years to get here, but we are here,” said Mayor Richard Atwell.

Monday’s vote awards PAW Pacific Audio Works $205,992.78 to install and maintain the new system over the course of the five-year-long contract. Funding for the capital portion comes from IT capital budget of $263,500. The total annual operating cost for the system is $56,000.

Harley Machielse, Saanich’s director of engineering, said staff will be working with the PAW Pacific Audio Works to work out an installtion schedule. “They have to do that (provide a schedule) within one week,” he said. “It is our hope that within the next couple of months, we can live webcasting available.”

Saanich anticipates approximately 45 webcasts per year, each approximately four hours in duration, according to bid documents.

PAW Pacific Audio Works Ltd outbid Sharp’s Audio Visual and TLD Computers CustomWorks, a division of London Drugs, for contract with a bid of . Sharp’s Audio Visual and TLD Computers had offered bids of $288,177.98 and $237, 249.00 respectively.

Council chambers require “a complete new retrofit” of the media system for council meetings, according to bid documents.

Specifications call for four high-definition cameras to handle web-casts. One camera “shall be affixed to the ceiling behind the presentation podium aiming north while the other three cameras are to be be mounted on the walls of the council chambers allowing one camera each to aim south, east and west.”

Members of the public will be able follow meetings online or watch archived versions thereof, according to those specifications. Other desired improvements include a new audio system, new microphones, and touch screen voting.

Current plans call for outside rather than internal staff to monitor the system, said Machielse.

“That’s the model that we are preferring,” he said. “It is an easier model to administer, to work with [third-party staff] that has familiarity with the system.”

This model, he said, would not conflict with existing labour arrangements between the District and unionized staff, adding that Saanich has the option of

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