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Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows councils could go paperless

Maple Ridge council is considering going completely paperless and joining the Mac world, and it’s asking Mayor Ernie Daykin to lead the way.

For the past few weeks, Daykin, along with chief administrator Jim Rule, has been taking an iPad to Metro Vancouver meetings and wading through the regional agendas using the touch screen rather than flipping through thick agenda binders.

The program allows him to highlight paragraphs and put on sticky notes, Daykin says.

“If I can walk my way through it and figure it out, it can’t be that difficult,” he said Thursday.

Sometimes he has to force himself to use the iPad, but that’s OK, he adds.

Most of Metro Vancouver’s board is already using iPads, he pointed out.

Councillors also have Blackberry phones.

Daykin says he’ll review the experiment in May and decide if all of council should try them.

One concern is that the computers may hinder debate if everyone is stuck on their screens, but Daykin says he puts his on a stand so it forces him to look up.

“You have to make a concerted effort to look up and make eye contact.”

He hasn’t yet tried the iPad, which costs between $400 and $700 retail, at a Maple Ridge council meeting.

Daykin has tried Blackberry’s PlayBook. “But I find the iPad easier to use.”

Metro Vancouver’s board of directors have been using iPads for the past four months and no longer gets paper agendas and staff reports. Everything is electronic now.

Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walters just prints out the one or two pages of the agenda, then refers to her iPad for the detailed reports.

“I love it, I really do,” she says.

“It’s very convenient to get my phone messages through it. They’re very handy.”

So far, four Pitt Meadows staff, three in fire services, one in operations, and the chief administrator use the iPads.

Council will review in the fall whether to use iPads in council, using an application that will allow councillors to view and mark up agenda copies and to communicate with other councillors.

Walters didn’t have exact numbers available, but said the savings over paper were anticipated to be just a couple thousand dollars.

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