Sooke council meetings to be webcast

Webcasts will allow local residents to watch what goes on at council from home.

Residents will soon be able to watch council meetings from their homes, raw and unedited, with webcasts slated to begin in the fall.

According to Mayor Wendal Milne, webcasting will keep residents informed and provide transparency.

“I’m really happy because what I heard when I was out campaigning for the election was people wanted transparency,” Milne said. “One of my campaign promises was to be as transparent as we could.”

Milne also stated the rolling cameras will ensure accountability from council.

“If you say something as an elected representative, you have to make sure you’re prepared to defend it publicly,” he said. “You just can’t make offhand comments. I think it’s good, it holds us more accountable for what we’re doing.”

Councillor Rick Kasper agreed.

“I think that we have a pretty disciplined council, but I think that when a camera is running…people are very careful of what they say and they make sure that they do it in a clear and concise fashion,” he said.

“If somebody ever had a doubt about what somebody said or what was actually implied or the connotation around something, it’s there.”

Speaking as a councillor and former MLA, Kasper said webcasting has proven to be a success in both municipal and provincial levels of government.

The webcasts will broadcast council meetings live on the District of Sooke website, and all videos will archived and available for future access.

The entire program, which was approved along with the budget last fall, will cost $6,325 US for set up, $1,100 US for the camera, $170 Cdn for the video cable and UPS, and a monthly cost of $860 US per month for hosting fees. The provider is  U.S. streaming government company, Granicus.

“That sounds like a lot of money, but is it a lot of money to keep people informed and give them the ability from their house to find out what’s going on?” Milne asked.

The webcast is also part of a move to go paperless, as council is currently toying with the idea of introducing iPads for each member of council to hold documents like agenda and minutes.

Trials for the webcasting will take place throughout the month of July for training purposes and to ensure there are no bugs in the system.