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Current council will not be going back to city hall for meetings

Further delays installing tech upgrades will push return of in-person meetings to November with newly-elected council
Aastha Shetty/Kitchener Today

Delays in completing tech upgrades to accommodate hybrid meetings inside council chambers at City Hall has pushed the timeline for a return to in-person meetings to late November. 

The city hired MacLean Media Systems Inc. to complete the upgrade in April with a $264,000 budget after supply chain issues prevented the city from getting the work completed last year.

In March, city clerk Danielle Manton told CambridgeToday the delayed upgrades and a return to in-person council meetings was caused by the world-wide shortage of micro-chips. She estimated at the time that a return to regular council meetings would be delayed until late May or June, after staff and council had a chance to train on the new system. 

The city admitted earlier this week that timeline was optimistic.

"The work in Chambers is not expected to be fully completed until the beginning of November and therefore, to allow for testing and training of our hybrid equipment, we will focus on providing training to the new term of Council which will then allow for a return to in person and virtual participation at Council meetings," Manton said in an e-mailed statement.

The upgraded audio and video system will give council members the opportunity to convene in-person or virtually along with delegations and presenters.

Changes already in place inside council chambers include a seating adjustment to ensure capacity limits, and acrylic dividers between seated council members and staff.

The current council has three meetings left before the Oct. 24 election: Aug. 9, Sept. 13 and Sept. 27, all of which will be held virtually.

Money for the council chamber project is coming from the city's rate stabilization reserve fund along with Safe Restart Agreement funding from the province.