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Town hall in-person and via zoom this fall

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Council is moving forward with a hybrid online and in-person Town Hall event this fall in order to engage with the public on budget discussions.

“The intention is to hold this event within the first two weeks of November, prior to budget deliberation meetings planned for later in the month,” said CAO Emily Olsen.

The Town Hall would be held in the Performing Arts Theatre of Hinton (PATH), with limited attendance to comply with the Art Society Hinton (ASH) and Government of Alberta COVID-19 measures.

At the same time, the event would be livestreamed, and users can submit questions in advance via email or during the session via the Youtube Live Chat.

“Last year, we did a great town hall, it was really well received. Obviously, this year is going to be modified and different and I’m excited to take part in it and curious to see how it goes and what the uptake is,” said Coun. Dewly Nelson.

Any time council has a chance to interact with the public and get some feedback on what’s happening with the Town budget or what some of the high level issues are, is beneficial for council, added Coun. Ryan Maguhn.

A second direction was postponed directing administration to prepare a report detailing recommendations on other town hall options in preparation for a future Town Hall and other organizational engagement events.

“I’m really curious to hear what the community has to say about the zoom [meeting], what the participation level is, what the interaction is,” said Nelson.

He added that the results of the upcoming town hall will bring some clarity to future conversations with citizens about this decision and potentially change the scope of any future report from administration.

In 2019, Council held an in-person Town Hall event at the PATH, which several councilors mentioned was a successful event.

COVID-19 forced Council Meetings to no longer be held in-person and required new technologies to be activated to enable open governance. 

Administration rapidly configured a Zoom Live Stream and Meeting solutions, and has successfully continued this practice through the pandemic. This capacity has also been built into the Council Chambers now.

There are options to deliver a higher quality product by upgrading to a higher-level software package with better meeting management tools, wider audience and participant numbers, and enable organization wide access to the Zoom Web Conference or Seminar tools.

Administration has also done preliminary investigations into other solutions outside of the currently used platform for Councils consideration.