Council approved spending $30,000 to upgrade the council chambers technology capabilities to accommodate future meetings. Upgrades will including cameras and audio equipment to facilitate internet meetings such as Zoom and Facebook Live.
The current system frequently fails during regular meetings and was not designed to be used with multimedia platforms.
Mayor Atrill said the upgrades may also give the opportunity for councillors and other entities such as the regional district and hospital to attend meetings that may be out of the region or may otherwise be unable to attend for other reasons such as weather.
The money will be allocated from the COVID-19 Recovery Fund and was passed unanimously. In early November, the Town was granted $1.6 million from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s COVID-19 Safe Restart Grants for Local Governments program.
Council voted to allocate $500 from their contingency funds to send and hand-deliver Christmas cards to businesses and individuals that do business with the Town throughout the year.
There was discussion regarding COVID-19 risks in hand delivering cards, so it was resolved this could be accomplished by a combination of electronic mail and hand-delivered cards with proper COVID measures being taken. Mayor Gladys Atrill will be making the hand deliveries.
The motion was passed with Councillor Wray opposed.
SMITHERS CURLING CLUB
The Smithers Curling Club requested a reduced billing rate from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021 as the club will not be operating due to COVID-19. Council determined it did not have enough information on past practices of billing with the Curling Club and directed Town staff to research and bring forward a recommendation to the next Council meeting.
A motion was also passed to bring the billing issue into the budget considerations for 2021.
The Curling Club also requested support as a registered charitable partnership with the town. Discussion centered around the fact the Town owns the land the Curling Club is on, so it was deemed a partnership would be normal.
A motion to support the request passed unanimously.
Councillor John Buikema brought forward a request from the Smithers Public Library Board requesting council’s permission to apply $10,000 from the Library’s contingency funds to the approved 2020 operating budget to address projected COVID-19 related expenses.
The motion was passed.
The library also requested the number of active members on the board be reduced from nine to seven because the it is having a hard time finding members and reaching quorum.
That motion was also approved.