Richmond Review

$397,200 upgrade to Richmond council chambers planned

Council chambers at Richmond City Hall is getting a new audio-visual system worth nearly a half-million dollars.  - Matthew Hoekstra photo
Council chambers at Richmond City Hall is getting a new audio-visual system worth nearly a half-million dollars.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra photo

Richmond City Hall is preparing for a $397,200 overhaul of the audio-visual system in council chambers, a project the mayor believes is money well spent.

"Of course with anything in the field of technology, 12 years is a long time. It was felt that it was time to upgrade and replace what we had there," said Mayor Malcolm Brodie. "It's basically going from an analog-based system to a digital system."

This week staff issued a request for expressions of interest to find a contractor capable of the six-figure upgrade.

The existing system dates to 2000, when city hall was built, and utilized the best technology available, said Brodie.

Since then many components have been replaced or upgraded, and a new system is needed to "maintain reliability and serviceability," according to the proposal document. In recent years some key equipment has failed, requiring costly repairs and equipment downtime, staff say. This, while audio-visual technology has "significantly changed."

"The suggestion that we upgrade the audio-visual equipment in council chambers has been made on a number of occasions, and we've never prioritized high enough to make it to our current capital budget," said Brodie.

Most upgrades won't be seen by those sitting in the 92-seat gallery.

The new system will replace obsolete hearing assist devices, microphones and speakers. TV cameras and a document reader will be swapped for higher-resolution models, video conferencing technology will be introduced, new fibre optic cables will be run and web-streaming capability will become available.

"I'm not saying that we are right now going to go to web-streaming, but it allows us to make that choice, and frankly it's something that I would like to do," said Brodie.

Some existing elements will stay, including projection screens, projectors and ceiling loudspeakers.

The project is part of $1.6 million earmarked in this year's capital budget to improve the city's technology. Also planned is a $700,600 upgrade of computer infrastructure, $200,000 for fibre optic cabling to city facilities, $142,000 in software upgrades and $134,000 for new phone sets.

Last year, the City of Markham replaced a seven-year-old audio-visual system in its council chambers for a similar cost. The Ontario city's bill came to $319,140.

In 2007, the City of Mississauga upgraded its audio-visual system at a cost of $500,000, according to Novita, a 30-year-old audio-visual consulting firm

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