Maple Ridge starts livestreaming its regular and committee council meetings in April, but there are no immediate plans to do the same for its Monday workshops.
The morning shirtsleeve sessions take place in the smaller Blaney Room, which will be fitted with sound equipment so that by April 8, audio recording is possible.
But the recording may not be good enough to post online, so anybody who wants to listen to the recording will have to ask the clerk, chief administrator Jim Rule told council in a recent letter.
However, in June, once a request for proposals has been finalized, the Blaney Room will get more upgrades – with a new projector, screen and monitors to “enhance the quality of presentations and conferences in this room,” Rule said.
In addition to council meetings, the Blaney Room is used frequently for staff training and is the backup emergency operations centre.
After the equipment has been installed and several meetings recorded, staff can figure how best to put the videos online.
At least $55,000 has been set aside for upgrading equipment in both council chambers and the Blaney Room.
“It’s not going to be livestreamed, but it will be recorded,” Mayor Ernie Daykin said Monday.
“Once the upgrades are done, we will have the ability to record it and post it to the web,” Daykin added.
However, at some point, workshop meetings may be livestreamed, although staff say the length of the meetings, which can have recess breaks, is challenging.
“It’s not that I don’t want to livestream, it’s just a process,” Daykin said.
The mayor, though, likes the informality of the workshop meetings, during which staff and council sit around a table instead of in council chambers.
“It’s more relaxed. It’s not as formal. It’s a more role-up-your-sleeves session.”
Other communities have workshops that are not open to the public, he added.
“If we’re going to err on the side of anything, it’s openness.”
Other cities have private retreats, but Maple Ridge had an open strategic planning session last year.
Only labour, law and land negotiations are held in camera, and everything else is done in public, he added.
“I think that’s what the public wants and expects from us and we’re trying to do the best we can.”