Smithers town council, from left: John Buikema, Mika Meyer, Greg Brown, Mayor Gladys Atrill, Frank Wray, Casda Thomas and Lorne Benson. (file photo)

Smithers town council, from left: John Buikema, Mika Meyer, Greg Brown, Mayor Gladys Atrill, Frank Wray, Casda Thomas and Lorne Benson. (file photo)

Upgrades coming to Smithers Council chamber’s audio-visual

Residents will soon be able to hear and see Smithers Town council meetings better, however the project is costing more money than initially budgeted for.

At last Tuesday night’s council meeting, councillors awarded an audio and visual project contract to Taylor Sound and Light productions for up to $56,901 plus taxes. This is the same firm that helped set up council meetings to be viewed online during the pandemic.

In the 2022 budget planning process, council approved an audio-visual upgrade project at a cost of $33,000.

During the process of putting together a Request for Proposals (RFP), Town staff asked a provincial audio and visual design firm to develop a technical schedule for potential inclusion in the RFP.

They suggested an integrated microphone system, one that includes an audio conference system that integrates with 360-degree cameras. However, this project was found to exceed council’s original budget.

Town staff consulted with the Town’s IT contractor and Taylor Sound and Light productions about the upgrades. In response to this, Taylor Sound and Light productions submitted a quote for a camera processor; a 360-degree camera; news mics and mixers; and other required equipment for installation. The total cost for that was almost $57,000.

Town staff touted the project to council to be more user-friendly, improve public accessibility and mitigate health risks for town stakeholders and could contribute to less costs in the future for marrying the camera and microphone systems if it is done all at once.

The hardware recommended by Taylor Sound and Light productions will operate similarly to the current system but with improved noise cancellation options, greater integration with cameras in place, greater public accessibility and a more user-friendly system for staff to operate.

Director of Operations Duncan Malkinson said staff endeavour to run competitions for contracts wherever required to ensure operational integrity. However, he added owing to the unique and time-sensitive nature of the project and the difficulty sourcing through other available firms, staff recommended the direct award of the contract to Taylor Sound and Light Productions. Town council unanimously agreed and took the recommendation.

Micro-chip shortages may push back ordering equipment but the contractor will immediately place an order and staff hope to have it all installed before November 2022.

The current microphone system in the council chambers has not been updated since July 2004.

Smithers council