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Tech upgrades coming to Lethbridge City Council Chamber

When Lethbridge City Council meetings resume in September, those attending and watching online will see and hear some positive differences.

Beginning today and set to be completed before the first meeting back in mid-September, several technological upgrades will be taking place in Chamber. The infrastructure additions will include:

  • More than 26,000 feet of new wiring
  • New audio tabletop units with new microphones for better audio clarity on livestreams
  • Four new cameras
  • New electronic nameplates that can be quickly and easily changed for different users and meeting types
  • Accessible entry to main Chamber doors
  • The media bench will have new plug-ins and ethernet access
  • Increased fiber networking capacity for future needs

“For a variety of reasons, this refresh is required to support the current needs and expectations of City Council and the public to maintain accessible meetings in an ever-changing online and technology-driven world,” says Ryan Westerson, Legislative Services Manager. “Some of the infrastructure in Council Chamber has not been upgraded since the current City Hall opened in 2000. These upgrades will ensure better reliability and amplify the meeting experience for Council members, as well as strengthen the public’s ability to participate in the democratic process.”

DRC Communication of Lethbridge is one of the companies contracted for these upgrades. They are the same company who ran previous wires to set up Council Chamber before it opened 23 years ago in 2000.

Of further interest, 23 years prior to 2000 – on January 10, 1977 – local media were given the opportunity to record audio and video at a Council meeting for the first time. Broadcast media outlets at that time were able to work out a system to pool microphones, an amplifier and other equipment. The goal was to produce higher quality and more complete newscast of council meetings, as well as full video recordings for rebroadcast.

“Council meetings have always open to the public, but the 1977 tech enhancements allowed outlets of that time to have electronic media for covering City Council,” says Belinda Crowson, City Councillor and President of the Lethbridge Historical Society. “Since that time, there have been continual improvements in regard to openness and transparency. Similar to the goals in 1977, here in 2023 we are striving to make it more convenient for our residents to be more aware of Council meetings and provide better options for keeping up with decisions being made.”

Lethbridge City Council meetings have been livestreamed online since 2011. The City of Lethbridge’s YouTube page is here. The 2023 Council calendar can be viewed here.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, Council, and the technology in Council Chamber, faced new challenges with hybrid of in-person and online meetings and increased viewership online. In addition to these new upgrades providing further stability with the technology, they will also enhance the adaptability for other meetings in Council Chamber, such as the Lethbridge Police Commission and other Boards, Commissions and Committees.

The 2023 upgrades are being funded through existing lifecycle budgets.

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