Attendance by the public at Colwood council meetings is an ever fluctuating presence.
Go on a night with a hot-button issue such as Solar Colwood or sewage treatment and you might find council chambers nearly full. But go on a night of regular city business and there might be one or two audience members, or none.
To make council meetings more accessible to the public Colwood is taking part in a six-month trial of live streaming its meetings online. Granicus, a company that specializes in online applications for governments, offered Colwood a six-month free trial.
The only cost to the city is the purchase of an encoder, at $2,723.
If the city decides to keep live streaming after six months, council will have to decide on the level of service.
“As long as it’s giving people good service and it works into our system OK, then we’ll probably keep it,” said Michael Baxter, acting chief administrative officer.
Mayor Carol Hamilton said council will wait to see how the trial works out before making any decisions.
“It’s got to be something that people are going to take the time to go to and sit and watch,” Hamilton said. “I’m all for looking at ways that we can encourage more people to tune in to what’s going on. That I support wholly. Is this the right one? I’m not sure.”
The city already has $16,000 for webcasting, approved in the 2012 budget.
General improvements to the city’s website are also in the works. A request for proposals is out for an individual or firm to update “the visual identity” of the municipality. This will include development of a new city logo, expected to still centre around Hatley Castle.
“It’s been a long time on the horizon of requests by the community to get fixed,” Hamilton said. “I would be a lot happier if we put all of our efforts into making (the website) top class.”
Money set aside from last year’s budget is still available for website work.
There is no word yet on when the first council meeting will be live streamed.