Regional District of Nanaimo meetings will continue to be broadcast over the internet for the foreseeable future.
After launching a pilot project last May, which sees regular, electoral area services committee and committee of the whole meetings live-streamed and then archived online, staff reported to the RDN board detailing ratings and costing and directors subsequently voted to continue with the service. Another report will be submitted as part of 2021 budget discussions, at which time the topic will be revisited.
According to the report, the first regular board meeting that was streamed, on July 23, saw the both best live numbers with 66 viewers and post-meeting numbers with 113. The eSCRIBE service is used for webcasting, at a cost of $10,450, and closed captioning, at $9,450, for a yearly price tag at $19,900.
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While the motion passed, it was not without opposition. Leonard Krog, Nanaimo mayor and RDN director, said he is in favour of openness and transparency, but questioned spending close to $20,000 for 26 viewers for the Nov. 26 committee meeting and 12 people who watched the Nov. 12 regular meeting live, especially when there are 150,000-some residents residing in the RDN.
“The agenda and the materials we receive is publicly available on our website … I can’t justify spending $20,000 to ensure that this limited number of individuals, which is actually diminishing by my read from the first regular board meeting, basically headed downhill and not uphill,” Krog said at the meeting. “I’m not prepared to stand up and put on a clown outfit to make meetings more entertaining so that we attract more viewership.”
Don Bonner, Nanaimo director, voiced support saying it is all part of what the RDN offers its residents.
“We provide a lot of services to the regional district. We provide transit services that not everybody uses; we provide parks that not everybody uses, so this is just one of the other services…” Bonner said. “We’re providing it for the entire regional district, for all the members to watch whenever they see fit. So this is why I think this is a thing we should continue on with.”
Viewership numbers included information technology staff, who monitored the feed to ensure everything was in order, the RDN told the News Bulletin.
Along with Krog, Ed Mayne, Parksville mayor and RDN director, also voted against continuing webcasting meetings.