Live! From Wyoming! It’s County Council!

You will soon be able to watch Lambton County Councilors at work.

County council has approved $42,000 to install equipment to allow for live video streaming of its meetings.

Sarnia Council’s meetings have been shown live on TV Cogeco for years and for a time the cable TV station also provided the service at county council. But the company, which relies on volunteer labour to air its local programming, had a hard time attracting help for the mid-day meetings.

So Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley suggested the county look into becoming its own broadcaster. With the evolution of internet technology, live streaming has become the least expensive option. Staff expects it will cost about $33,000 to buy and install the equipment needed and another $9,000 a year to run it.

Bradley says live-streaming will increase transparency in county government. “We are one county …within the city, county government is still a mystery,” says Bradley. “This fits the (county) communication plan which is trying to deal with the ever changing world of communication. This is one more way to communicate.”

Lambton Shores Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Davis Dagg agrees. “It increases transparency and the availability to the public.”

“This level of government is far away from the public,” added Sarnia City/County Councilor Bev MacDougall “this gives us the opportunity to take it closer to the people.”

But not everyone sees it that way. “The rural councilors are known by their first name,” says Sarnia City/County Councilor David Boushy. “I don’t think this will get them any closer to the community; they’re already respected in the community and they don’t need this show…

We have this in the City of Sarnia and it’s a good show …I’m not sure they need it.”

And Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper argued it seemed like a lot of money for the service. He says county council has about 10 meetings a year that last about one hour. “I think there are cheaper ways of doing it than $4,000 an hour…and in that hour there are about three people who speak.”

But Bradley argues on a budget of $181 million, $42,000 is “good value for the money.”

County staff hope to have the new system in place this year.

– Heather Wright