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REPORTING · 3rd February 2015
Walter McFarlane
If you didn't attend this Council Meeting, you can watch it on our video site by clicking this paragraph.

On Monday, January 26th, Council discussed the replacement of the phone system at the District of Kitimat Offices and the Public Works Yard. The pre-budget approval was put forward by the IT Manager and they wanted to get started on it last year. The expenditure would cost $50,000.

“The existing system is 15 years old. We can’t add any more outside lines to it,” said Community Treasurer Steve Christiansen. “I don’t believe it’s an emergency function so whether you want to wait or not, it’s up to you.”

He told Council they would like to have an automated response to phone calls to the District. Councillor Edwin Empinado asked if this would replace anyone. He was told it would not.

Councillor Larry Walker asked if they build a new City Hall, would they be able to take the new system with them. The reply was this system would stay with the building, as most of the money would go towards running wires.

Christiansen told Council they have done some initial discussions with a consultant on the possibility of building a new City Hall and Council should be briefed on this before they invest in the old one.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff determined Council should evaluate this expenditure alongside other expenditures in this year’s budget. “I would not want to pre-approve things that don’t need to be preapproved when there is not an emergency,” said Feldhoff.

Walker expressed he could think of 50,000 reasons why it should not be pre-approved.

Councillor Rob Goffinet suggested, because this expenditure was for both City Hall and Public Works, why not just pre-approve the Public Works Yard. He added pre-approval would get contracts done before the summer rush. Christiansen replied he needed further information.

Councillor Mary Murphy stated she was excited to here Kitimat was getting a new City Hall since she missed the last two weeks of meetings. She expressed she did not want to spend the $50,000 on the old City Hall and would sooner put the money into a new building.

Feldhoff suggested for staff to get ready to do the upgrade, he did not see pre approval necessary.

Mayor Phil Germuth agreed with Goffinet, Council should see the breakdown between Public Works and City Hall concerning the cost differences prior to making a decision.

Christiansen explained to Council is they will most likely ask Telus for an estimate and if they will most likely only give Council the estimate if they are the ones who will do the work.

The motion was called and it was defeated with Councillor Rob Goffinet being the only Councillor in Favour.

This would return to Council on Monday, February 2nd, along with the report on the streaming of Council Meetings. Paul Mitchell, the District of Kitimat’s IT Person, explained how this project was related to streaming of Council Meetings.

“As you know, we have had problems getting picture and sound onto the Citywest link. The issue we have right now is we have no visibility into the system so we can’t figure out what the problem is. As far as we’re aware, the feed that we provide to Citywest is good but we can’t troubleshoot any further than that,” said Mitchell.

He explained to Council they are also trying to provide video over the internet. They want to stream Council Meetings in real time and archive them on their website. To do this, they need to replace the cameras, putting one camera at the back of the room facing Council, one at the front focused on the presenters and a virtual camera which would record whatever is on the laptop a presenter is using to present.

According to Mitchell, in order to get the Meetings to the internet, they will have to transmit a signal from the College to City Hall, according to a report to Council this will use a wireless radio link as there is not enough space to run an additional cable from the college into the internet. Once at City Hall, the feed will be made available to Citywest in addition to being streamed.

However, this raises a new problem. The internet at City Hall is of the home grade variety. The District is asking Telus to upgrade their phones and internet to a business grade connection. Mitchell explained there are workers in the District of Kitimat whom are doing without Direct Dial, Caller ID or voice mail on their phones. The system is 15-16 years old.

Councillor Mary Murphy clarified this is the same Pre-approval which was brought up the previous week. She was told this was.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff asked if this would save money. However, these savings are offset by getting a better internet connection. Mitchell pointed out everything was online these days.

Feldhoff also asked if viewers will be able to watch the meetings on the televisions. Mitchell explained the people who were streaming at home would need to find a way to connect their computer to their television. Mayor Phil Germuth was also concerned that people who do not know how to use a computer would be unable to watch Council Meetings in the comfort of their living rooms.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff stated the Kitimat Daily provided streaming without it costing the business $50,000. He asked what the difference is. Mitchell explained that Walter McFarlane from the Kitimat Daily records the video, takes it home, transfers the video from the camera, renders it down to reduce the file size and uploads it.

“The system that I am looking to implement would do that essentially in real time without any input from users to speed up that manual process of input from the camera, go through the transcoding and then uploading it again,” said Mitchell.

Feldhoff asked if Council should consider a policy as to how long the backlog of meetings would be available to watch as the server would fill up. Mitchell suggested removing videos from the archives after they have been there for two years. He said they could use as much space as they want, but they would pay annual fees for it.

Councillor Edwin Empinado asked if there was a problem with the camera. He was told by Mitchell there was a fault in the camera. They are looking to replace it and have it repaired so it can work as a backup camera.

He explained to Council if they provide Citywest with a feed, the District would own the system and be able to troubleshoot it so if there is a problem with the broadcast, he can say the problem is on Citywest’s side of the broadcast.

Mitchell expressed he is not certain where the problem in the feed currently is. Deputy CAO Warren Waycheshen explained they have been told by Citywest the problem in the feed is transmitting it from Terrace to Kitimat. It gets from the Council Chambers to their office in Terrace all right.

A Citywest volunteer was asked to comment on this. He explained there would be 2 cameras, a link to the presentation and he was told the volunteers would be switching between the camera feeds at Regular Meetings.

Germuth stated the Council had moved to the new chambers to make things accessible, but also to upgrade the ability to broadcast meetings. He said: “We haven’t had a single meeting yet where everybody could watch or see the whole thing, they’re either getting one or the other or nothing.”

“So, we are not doing away with our existing service, we are enhancing our existing service. And yet, we recognize there are problems, for whatever reason with our existing service and we will work on those and hopefully get that resolved in the not too distant future,” said Feldhoff.

The motion was called and carried unanimously. Not present at Council were Councillor’s Walker, Goffinet and Rattee.