Port Moody has approved pricey upgrades to one of their conference rooms, which staff has described as currently “unusable” for virtual meetings.
Improvements to the Brovold Room were originally budgeted for back in July, 2021, as part of a $108,000 package of upgrades that included the Parkview Room, and the Inlet Centre Fire Hall training and conference rooms.
All the other upgrades have been completed, with the exception of the Brovold Room, which has proved to be more challenging, staff said.
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“If you’ve ever been in the room, and you stand in the center of it, you start speaking, and it will sound very, very odd,” said Raman Braich, manager of information services. “With a microphone system, it is even worse.”
A total of $117,000 in upgrades have been approved for the Brovold Room, which is used for council and staff meetings.
Staff said the focus will be adding a significant amount of sound density to the room to remove the echo effect caused by its domed room.
Acoustic panels will be installed on the interior of the dome and to the walls, however, staff said consultants cannot definitely say whether this will entirely fix the problem.
Braich said staff may be back with additional requests if there are still issues.
The initial improvements only required $32,500, and staff have now been granted an additional $41,500.
The funds will be taken from the remainder of the COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant, which has a balance of $228,000.
Other Brovold Room improvements include a ceiling mounted microphone, two auto switching cameras, and a ceiling mounted monitor.
Mayor Meghan Lahti said when the council first saw the price of these improvements, they didn’t realize how vital virtual meetings would end up becoming for city business.
“We were bulking at such an expenditure, because we really didn’t know what it was going to look like going forward,” Lahti said. “I think that we’re at a point now where we understand that hybrid meetings are not going to go away, and they’ve actually been really convenient for us.
Lahti added that Parkview Room is not an ideal location for many of council’s meetings, and the city needs a functional professional space that will last for another decade or two.
“I know it’s a bit of money, but it is money well spent.”