Web broadcasts of Saanich council meeting have drawn more than 17,200 views, according to Saanich staff. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Saanich TV claims more than 17,200 views

Since it started more than six months ago, webcasting of Saanich’s council meetings has drawn more than 17,200 views, according to the District.

Saanich officially started webcasting its council meetings in early September 2017. The first official live broadcast took place Sept. 11, 2017, as per Saanich.ca.

Since then, a count shows 17 live broadcasts of regular council meetings, committee-of-the-whole meetings, and public hearings between Sept. 11 and Dec. 18, 2017.

No webcasting took place during five special, in-camera, council meetings between those dates. Saanich also did not broadcast the committee-of-the-whole meeting on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, when councillors narrowly voted 5-4 to repeal the Environmental Development Permit Area bylaw, later ratified on Nov. 6, 2017.

Since the start of 2018, Saanich broadcast three regular council meetings, two committee-of-the-whole meetings, and one public, according to Saanich.ca, drawing 1,200 views in 2018 on top of the 16,000 views since the start of Web-casting.

These figures mean that each of the 23 broadcasts since Sept. 2017 have drawn an average of 747.8 viewers.

“Council and staff are pleased with the viewership we’ve received since we launched the webcasts in September 2017,” said Angila Bains, Saanich’s manager of legislative services last week. “It’s exciting that residents are able to participate in local government from the comfort of their own home or through their mobile devices on the go.”

Initial planning for the initiative — also known as Saanich TV — goes back at least two years, but financial considerations delayed final approval until April of 2017, when council approved some $200,000 for the system, which also includes a new audio system and other audio-visual features designed to enhance council meetings.

Saanich officials have repeatedly cited Web-casting as an example of Saanich’s commitment towards transparency, a point Mayor Richard Atwell made again in his annual address, when he spoke of webcasting as a “milestone achievement.” Notably though, Saanich appears as a late-comer in broadcasting its meetings, be it by cable-access television or with the help of a web-based system, a point Atwell’s obliquely acknowledged.

“This has been a long time coming and while statistics regarding webcasting traffic have demonstrated that the system has been well received by our community, it is heartening to see residents attending council in number,” he said.

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