Council embraces paperless process

Tablets and online agendas the new way for Oak Bay

Coun. Michelle Kirby is happily out from under the piles of paper that used to make up agendas at Oak Bay council and committee meetings and now taps away at her tablet instead after Oak Bay started 2015 with a paperless agenda.

The shift to tablets is proving worthy as Oak Bay entered the digital age of agendas for 2015 – environmental, financial and community engagement.

“It’s good for our budget, good for our staff and it’s good for community engagement,” said Coun. Michelle Kirby. “Staff deserve the credit.”

She has encouraged the change since her first election to council in 2011, and right up until late last year staff were creating multiple paper agendas, at times even driving them out to council members’ homes on the Friday before a meeting.

“It’s expensive to change processes and we’re very mindful of our budgets in Oak Bay,” Kirby said of taking time in the changeover. “We’re going to save in the long run, not to mention accessibility to the public.”

While Oak Bay hasn’t done a cost analysis of savings versus the cost of software and tablets for members of council and key staff, they’re confident in the value.

“We haven’t’ done a specific analysis of it, but certainly I know there was always a lot of staff time taken in photocopying and collating. It seems to be a smoother and easier operation,” said Mayor Nils Jensen.

“I have found it to have been a success from a number of points of view,” he added. “It gives the public quicker and greater access to all the items on our agenda; second of all it’s much easier to use at council than some of the other programs that I’ve seen and it’s very portable so you can do all the studies and access it 24/7 pretty well any place you’re at; thirdly it reduces the staff time as far as I can see.”

Now the agendas are available at oakbay.ca for download, and for those who require a tangible document, printing at home. It provides an easier path for first-time council meeting attendees, or the occasional follower of council. Staff also added a procedures page, explaining how each segment of the agenda works.

“It’s alleviated frustration for people who really spend a lot of time following council business,” Kirby said.

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

 

 

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