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$65,000 in audio-video upgrades being introduced this week

BY JOHN CHICK
Special to the VOICE

Pelham’s council chambers are getting a much-needed audio-video upgrade. According to Town Communications and Public Relations Specialist Marc MacDonald, the first phase of the room’s video upgrades were to be in effect for Monday night’s council meeting. This includes multiple cameras that can pivot to all speakers in the chamber, automatically direct by individual speakers as they press their microphones.

“Additional cameras will be installed to capture the entire council area,” MacDonald said.“These cameras will live-switch to the active speaker when a microphone button is pressed…[with a] fixed camera to be installed and focused on the centre podium speaker.”

The chamber’s previous video capability was limited to just one camera, which cut off either end of the dais where the Mayor and councilors sit during meetings. This meant that viewers usually couldn’t see either Ward 1 councillors Marianne Stewart or Mike Ciolfi, currently occupying these seats.

In another forward move into 2020s technology, the cameras will record in HD, and the overall upgrades will include two new LED screens on the wall to optimize viewing presentations and slide shows— both activated wirelessly.

Phase Two of the project involves live-streaming capabilities for all meetings. This means, like the Town’s recent public meetings on cannabis control, all council and committee gatherings will be able to be broadcast live on social media platforms.

“We are going to be testing the live stream in the month of January,” MacDonald said. “Once the system is reliable, we can then create the necessary links into our Facebook or YouTube feeds.”

MacDonald told the Voice that the upgrades will cost $65,000, although many would agree the changes are a net positive in terms of transparency. When the previous video recording system failed at the November 18 meeting, MacDonald apologized for the inconvenience.

“Recording council and committee meetings is done as a courtesy to our residents to make the meetings accessible,” he said at the time. “This is not a requirement under the Municipal Act, though we strive to provide as much information above and beyond as possible.”