An experiment in online meetings has borne fruit for Stettler County.
On Feb. 16, the County of Stettler and the Summer Villages of Rochon Sands and White Sands banded together to host a workshop on land-use planning for properties along the south shore of Buffalo Lake.
Information gathered from the workshop will be used to draft an updated plan for the region, to be developed by a steering committee representing the three municipalities.
The difficulty in planning for summer villages is that most of the property owners live somewhere else, mainly Calgary and Edmonton, so it’s difficult for them to come to Stettler for meetings on weekdays and even more difficult during winter, said Johan van der Bank.
The idea of inviting landowners to watch online meant that 38 people who wouldn’t have been able to attend were still able to sit in and hear the discussions live, he said. That’s almost four times the number of landowners who attended in person.
Of those 38, there were anywhere from four to 12 people watching online at any given time during the meeting. Ten more people came into the county office to take part in person.
There were some problems with the internet connection and the sound system, so images tended to freeze and online viewers reported hearing an echo.
Aside from those issues, the meeting would have been better if the online participants had been able to join the conversation rather than just watch and listen, said van der Bank. He is now working on improving the technological glitches as well as developing a system that would allow online participants to play a more active role in the next round of meetings.
Input from the Feb. 16 workshop will be used to create a draft plan, to be brought back later on for the landowners to review.
The draft should be ready for public presentation sometime in May, said van der Bank. A date and time has not been established.
A recorded version of the Feb. 16 meeting is to be made available online at www.stettlercounty.ca
All members of the public are welcome to view the workshop once it has been posted, but only those who are directly affected are able to submit comments.