MD OF BIGHORN – In an effort to lessen the workload on staff of the Municipal District of Bighorn, only council, the Municipal Planning Commission and the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board will be livestreamed moving forward.
The streaming of council and committee meetings began in March 2020 as a response to restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With most restrictions removed, administration felt it was time to scale back on streaming meetings.
“It makes sense to come back for in-person meetings, which we have been doing successfully,” CAO Robert Ellis said. “I find it is a better communication platform when I am able to be here to see and talk to you.”
The remaining committees will go back to regular business and will not be streamed.
“It will cut down on the amount of staff time required and gets us back to more of the normal we had pre-COVID.”
Coun. Joss Elford said the decision was unfortunate as he used meeting streams to see how decisions were made. He also felt streaming was useful to encourage the public to get involved in community matters.
“For people of the public to watch these and have a better understanding of how decisions are made,” he said. “Another thing about it is that when people can watch, it might get more people volunteering when they see what is involved in it.”
Reeve Lisa Rosvold agreed, stating she used meeting streams to get a better idea of what was happening.
“Is there any way that we could find a middle ground, a way to record it but where it is not taking up administration time,” she said. “Maybe just an audio recording, or a compromise.”
Ellis said that streaming was a convenience and only streaming the three main meetings was a compromise.
“It is a convenience which is costing me time with my staff,” Ellis said. “At the end of 2021, my staff were burned-out, and I have to look after the health of my staff.”
Under the current communication bylaw, if a member of a committee cannot attend a meeting, Microsoft Teams can still be used to ensure they are part of the meeting.
“We have the ability to use virtual for those, but they will not be streamed,” Ellis said, adding it would only happen with notice ahead of time, or in an emergency situation.
As well, other than the three main committees, no other committees will have videos uploaded to YouTube.
A suggestion of using a contractor to handle the committee meetings was put forward by Coun. Elford but Ellis stated this had to be a budget item and his preference was to stick with the three committees.
“I think for my staff right now, we just go with the three committees,” Ellis said. “I could look at something in the future with a contracted service for all the committee meetings.”
The decision to not stream all committee meetings begins immediately but council has asked administration to provide an update in the autumn to see whether the public would like all meetings streamed.
“I don’t know how many people are actually watching our committee meetings. I could go and see what the stats are,” Ellis said. “For the time being, I would like to move just with the three committees and come back later with more information about a contractor running this.”