County council chambers to get an audio-visual upgrade
By Chad Ingram
Published Aug. 2, 2018
Haliburton County council chambers will get an additional digital screen, as well as an audio system that will include microphones for councillors and staff, and assisted listening devices for members of the public who may require them.
As a staff report from county IT director Mike March indicated, the county was successful in obtaining a grant from the Enabling Accessibility Fund, which will fund 65 per cent of the project, the remaining 35 per cent coming from the county. With total costs of just more than $22,000, it means the county’s portion will amount to about $7,700.
Council chambers currently house two wall-mounted, 60-inch digital TV screens for the viewing of meeting documents. Both screens are located close to the council table. The addition of a 75-inch screen will see it put in place of one of the 60-inch screens, and one of them moved closer to the public gallery.
A wireless microphone system will also allow the public to better hear councillors, and councillors to better hear each other. The wireless goose-neck microphones, operated by talk buttons, will be placed at the seats of county councillors and senior staff.
“The warden will have a microphone that will take priority over everybody else,” March said, a priority switch still allowing the warden to control the meeting at all times.
Sound from the microphones will be broadcast through speakers mounted at the back of the room.
In addition, three assisted listening devices will be purchased for use by residents who may require them.
“These are little things that you wear on your belt that members of the public can sign out,” March explained. “They have earbuds and they can listen to it in the back.”
“I just think this is really great . . . it’s really good for people,” said Dysart et al Deputy Mayor Andrea Roberts, explaining she recently attended a meeting where people repeatedly said they couldn’t hear what was being said.
“It’s terribly frustrating for somebody who wants to participate in a conversation,” Roberts said.
Minden Hills council has a similar system in its council chambers and Mayor Brent Devolin said it has worked well.