Hawkesbury town council will be on camera whenever it returns to holding meetings in the council chambers at the town hall.
On October 1, council approved spending up to $2,500 to add webcams to all computers councillors and staff use at meetings so that sessions can continue to be livestreamed once in-person meetings return.
Since the pandemic began, livestreamed meetings have been held using webcams and the Microsoft Teams software from the homes and offices of council members and staff. At a Committee of the Whole meeting in September, council decided to eventually return to having in-person, livestreamed meetings.
The minimum cost for the cameras is $1,750 for the actual devices plus installation and possibly a portable webcam for delegations, presentations, and questions from citizens. The webcams will be fully integrated into the United Counties of Prescott and Russell’s (UCPR) information technology network and UCPR staff will do the installation.
Councillor Antonios Tsourounakis questioned the cost of the webcams. Interim Chief Administrative Officer Dominique Dussault explained the capabilities of the devices.
Councillor Yves Paquette said that it was not the right time for council to make the purchase because it is uncertain if council will return to having in-person meetings this year due to the ongoing pandemic. He said that the money would be better off left in reserve to reduce the negative effects the pandemic could have on the town’s finances in the year ahead.
Council voted 5-2 to approve purchasing and installing the webcams.
Until December 2018, Hawkesbury town council meetings were broadcast on the local COGECO cable television station.