Regional board slow to update communications

The Strathcona Regional District will consider webcasting its meetings

The Strathcona Regional District will consider webcasting its meetings but some directors aren’t biting at being on video just yet.

At the Oct. 23 board of directors meeting, Director Claire Moglove put forward a motion to have the Strathcona Regional District meetings webcast as soon as possible. An amendment to the motion, that the issue of webcasting be instead considered at a strategic planning session of the board, was ruled out of order. As a compromise, the board agreed to defer the issue of webcasting its meetings to the 2015 budget discussions – a motion that was opposed by Director Mary Storry.

Storry, also a Campbell River city councillor, has pushed for webcasting before. In October 2012 directors discussed streaming board and committee meetings on its website to encourage greater elector participation. Some directors, however, were uncomfortable with being on film and said the cost of adding the cameras was too high. According to a staff report in 2012, the regional district would have incurred a one-time cost of $27,000 which includes $2,000 for four cameras that pan, tilt and zoom, $20,000 for one camera controller, as well as $3,500 for eight microphones and a mixer board, and $1,500 for equipment installation. Annual operating costs were estimated to be between $15,500 and $20,500.

Jude Schooner, director representing Tahsis, said at the time that she thought the cameras were a “good thing because it does speak to transparency” but said that the price tag to maintain the system was “astronomical.”

Storry suggested the regional district look at a cheaper model – with less cameras and zoom features – but directors shied away from a basic model, much to Storry’s dismay.

“We have to grow with the new technology and to not have it on our website is a really old-fashioned way to go,” Storry said. “I think we need to go back and see if there’s a less expensive way to do it.”

Now, two years later, the regional district is still trying to figure out the best way to proceed.

Staff at the regional district are in the process of implementing a communications strategy and as part of that program launched a new website in February and hired a communications staffer.

The changes follow a communications audit of the Strathcona Regional District in 2011 by Acumen Communications Group which regional district CAO Russ Hotsenpiller said revealed “an organization with a low public profile and the need for a strategic communications and engagement strategy targeting internal, external, stakeholder and board of director communications.”