The Town of Hay River will join the likes of Yellowknife and Fort Simpson in live-streaming council meetings beginning December 9.
Meetings will be broadcast in real-time through the Town’s new YouTube channel, where they can also be viewed on demand as streams will be archived for posterity.
“Ultimately, the move was intended to keep the public informed of council decisions,” said Glenn Smith, the Town of Hay River's assistant senior administrative officer.
Smith said the municipality's corporate strategy included replacing a television broadcast service that used to be provided through the Hay River Elks Club’s community channel and rebroadcast on Bell. The channel has not broadcast council meetings in at least two years, meaning residents who wanted to follow council proceedings had to attend meetings in person or read the minutes.
“The intention [of the Town's webcast] is around increasing reliability, because we had issues with the [community channel] broadcast,” Smith said. He believes the new equipment, which came in around 50 percent under-budget, will also improve the quality of the broadcast.
The YouTube channel will stream high-definition video with improved audio, and will provide the Town with the ability to track the number of viewers.
“Now you don’t have to watch council meetings through dinner, you can watch them at any time that works for you,” Smith said.
Installation of the broadcast equipment, first reported by NNSL, took place a month ago. The Town has been busy testing and tweaking the equipment at council meetings over the past few weeks.
“We feel we’re in a position now to release a good-quality product,” said Smith of the decision to start publicly streaming meetings from next Monday – just in time for council's discussion of the 2020 operations and maintenance proposed budget.
The feed will switch between three preset camera angles: one broad display of council, one for presentations by delegations or Town administration, and one for administration inquiries.
In part because staff were able to recycle existing audio equipment, the project – budgeted at $15,000 – is now expected to cost the Town more like $8,000.
The Town has encouraged residents to watch for notifications about meetings on its website or Facebook page, or subscribe to the YouTube channel to get notifications when new content is published.
Elsewhere in the NWT, Yellowknife began experimenting with streaming council meetings in May 2010 before introducing comprehensive webcast coverage for the past five years. Fort Simpson has been using YouTube to stream and archive meetings since this past March.
At the end of October, the Salt River First Nation was working on purchasing a camera and microphones to begin streaming its meetings.