Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A new look and sound is in the works for the Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) council chambers.
Staff have been tasked with organizing a request for proposals for new video and sound equipment, following a recent council decision that improvements to the meeting area are long overdue, particularly concerning the audio and video equipment.
The purchase and installation are to begin following approval of the 2021-22 budget.
The staff had also been tasked with coming up with a new, up-to-date seating plan to make the meeting area more workable. They recommended two different seating arrangements.
Councillors agreed to an arrangement that would see a large table, around which they would be seated. Currently, the mayor and chief administrative officer sit on a platform with council members seated at small cubicles.
A technical expert will be enlisted to come up with a list of equipment needs for updating the video and audio quality of meetings.
"We are looking for expert advice on what is needed to make our council chamber audio- and video-friendly for the community that is not in the chamber," explained RQM's mayor, Darlene Norman.
Currently, video recording is done with an iPhone in one corner of the chambers, while audio recordings are undertaken through a system that is hooked into six strategically placed microphones hanging from the ceiling.
Councillors have complained that residents have often commented on the poor audio quality of the meetings.
Norman said the problems have been addressed by a patchwork of improvements for many years. She noted that, largely because of the pandemic, people are tuning into the council meetings more than ever, making the video and sound system upgrade more of a priority.
"We can tell the residents are engaged from the number of complaints we are getting," said Norman.
RQM staff estimate that the upgrades will cost between $75,000 and $100,000.