The Region of Queens is working to make council more accessible.
At Tuesday’s meeting, council agreed to contract Catalyst Consulting Engineers to design the proposed new council chambers audio video layout, issue and evaluate the request for proposals, and oversee the final installation.
Mayor Darlene Norman says they needed to find someone with the expertise in these systems that wasn’t trying to sell a particular product.
“They’ve done other municipal council chambers across the province and they’ve done other related work and they don’t sell the gear and they’re not related to companies that do sell it. So this is the best way to get an unbiased viewpoint of what’s required,” said Norman.
Council has budgeted $11,000 for this phase of the project. Norman says the public may have sticker shock when the final bill comes due, but council sees the value in making chambers more accessible to everyone.
“If people were more readily able to access live feed, have good quality feed, if the council chamber were more accessible, et cetera, that we would have more engagement from the public,” said Norman.
Council has been given a ballpark number of $100,000 to properly outfit the chamber with the necessary audio/visual equipment and make it accessible. That includes new microphones, speakers and displays to improve the experience for people in the chamber and those watching council proceedings via live stream from home.
Part of the design will see council sitting around one large table instead of the individual desks and raised dais for the mayor. Norman says the chambers will also be rearranged to allow people to watch and present to council, no matter what range of mobility they may have.
“We’re not doing the cosmetics, we’re doing what it takes to have a council room that can look as equal and accessible as can be,” said Norman.
Catalyst Consulting Engineers will soon begin the work of assessing the council chamber and putting together the request for proposals.
Council will then take the consultant’s recommendations under advisement before approving the final budget.
Reported by Ed Halverson
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