After turning down a $487,450 staff proposal to implement webcasting with chamber renovations, Saanich council has approved broadcasting meetings online at a more modest price tag of $156,500.
On Monday, council considered two options for webcasting: a single-camera system and a four-camera system, both with audio system upgrades, archiving to the district website and the ability to display presentation materials such as PowerPoints online. While the single-camera option was pegged at $115,400, council ultimately voted 6-2 in favour of the four-camera option for a variety of reasons.
Coun. Colin Plant brought up how, in early 2015, council approved a budget of $150,000 to implement webcasting. He said he trusted that staff had been diligent in developing the two options, with the second coming in just over their target.
“The reason why I’m moving Option 2 versus Option 1 is because that ship sailed when we passed the budget a year ago,” he said at the meeting. “If the public or anybody at this table says, ‘No way, $150,000 is too much,’ we were all willing to pass that into the budget when we passed it a year ago.”
Plant also said the second option – using multiple cameras – would provide a more effective webcast rather than just a “bare bones” model.
“I watch the CRD webcasting as an example and it’s atrocious. I listen and I can barely keep up – there is no option to see the speaker’s faces and the individual directors, so one camera would be catching us up to what is already a bad system.”
Both options budgeted for webcasting system software ($6,500), a meeting management system ($2,900) and an improved audio system ($59,000), with $15,000 set for contract administration, detailed design and tender preparation.
The webcasting system infrastructure – cameras, a control centre and wiring – was priced at $19,000 for the first option and $53,500 for the second, with the latter requiring more monitors and space to operate the feed. That was reflected in the cost of the on-site webcast production booth, priced at $1,000 for the first option and $3,000 for the second.
Option 2 also requires $4,600 in documentation and training, compared to $3,000 for Option 1, and has a $12,000 contingency, compared to $9,000.
Coun. Fred Haynes supported the motion, saying webcasting a sophisticated meshing of the chambers’ audio and documentation systems, while Coun. Vic Derman said the second option will offer more functionality.
“The difference in price is only the capital cost,” said Derman. “We have a difference, potentially, of $41,000 in the first year, and after that, they’re equivalent.”
Councillors Dean Murdock and Vicki Sanders voted in favour of Option 1, with Murdock saying he didn’t think council needed the high production value of four cameras.
“I’ve held from the beginning that this needs to be a fairly basic operation,” said Murdock. “I appreciate that this is already a stripped-down version of what we were presented with earlier, but I’m still reluctant to go that extra one quarter of the way just on the principle that I think we could have done it a lot faster and a little more basic.
“That being said, I’m quite happy to see this moving forward.”