Councillors debut new town tablets

Nicholas Mercer
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Bay Roberts council meetings now have a distinctive technological flavour

In an effort to go green and cut down on the usage of paper, the Town of Bay Roberts recently purchased nine new computer tablets to be used by councillors during regular meetings. The agendas for meetings would be loaded onto the devices, and drastically c¨t down on the need to photocopy the papers. Here, councillors Gerald Greenland (left) and Wade Oates use their tablets during the Feb. 12 regular meeting.

The Town of Bay Roberts is in the paper-saving business. Each of the mayor and councillors had a new tablet at their disposal during a Feb. 12 public meeting.

Bill Seymour, the deputy mayor, was waiting for his to be set up.

Each tablet had the night's agenda pre-loaded as a .pdf file. This new measure allows for the council to drastically cut down on the usage of paper when preparing for regular meetings.

Town clerk Shirley Hawe assembles the agendas for each meeting, and usually uses some 1,100 sheets of paper by the time she makes copies for all seven members of council, plus herself and other town officials.

At a combined $2,600, or $380 each, the tablets are not a big expense of council. There was some $10,000 allocated in the town's budget for the purchase.

These additions to council come after a trial period that saw Hawe and chief administrative officer Nigel Black put the devices through its paces before council made the leap.

Bay Roberts now becomes the first town in the Trinity Conception region to have these devices available to councillors, although there is word that Carbonear may not be far behind.

Mayor Philip Wood said the tablets allow for councillors to have access to previous agendas.

"Before, when they were individual papers for that particular meeting, but if you wanted to refer back to a previous meeting or a letter or comments, Shirley could get them by running out," he said.

Quarterly reports

At the meeting, the town implemented quarterly reports for each department. Dividing the year up into quarters, department heads will report on all of the happenings in their respective divisions on a set schedule.

Here is the schedule for the first set of reports:

° Recreation - Feb. 26;

° Municipal enforcement - March 12;

° Public Works - March 26;

This schedule will repeat itself every yearly quarter.

Up first was the tourism and development, as well as the CAO's report.

Director of tourism and economic development, Ron Delaney, read out the report.

Delaney reported that the town is gearing up for a re-launch of its website with an expected launch date to be in March.

"The site will be designed for a quicker access to departmental information," he said.

The site will feature links to the town's Flickr and YouTube accounts, as well as the possibility of a "pull-down" for public works, a job bank for Bay Roberts.

Other highlights include:

° the tourism outdoor maintenance supervisor is now a full-time position;

° the tourism officer will begin work the first week of May;

° the Visitor's Pavilion will be open for May 24 weekend;

° 88.5 tourism radio will launch May 24 weekend;

CAO's report

Meanwhile, Black presented his chief administrative officer's report the same evening.

"We continue to work through the various hurdles of land acquisition," he said of the proposed business park.

Bay Roberts is beginning an overhaul of its municipal plan, Black explained, to address issues that have come up since its inception.

"The process will begin immediately and may require additional public process depending on the response from the community," he said.

Other highlights include:

° the town will be implementing new application forms for development this year and will be concentrating on educating the public on the various forms of development that require permits;

° the town planner will be meeting with council to discuss possible amendments to the MAD Rock CDA area boundaries.

Organizations: Bay Roberts council

Geographic location: Bay Roberts, Rock CDA

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