South Dundas council unanimously voted last week to add $10,000 to the $40,000 in reserves and plunge into buying a brand new website for the local government. $50,000 for a new website. That’s on top of the thousands spent when the current website was launched in 2010, and the over $7,000 spent in 2014 for its ‘refresh’. Why is a refresh from two years ago already out of date?
Building a new website would make sense if the site was old, out of date, and/or had security concerns. But this was refreshed two years ago.
The feedback from the First Impressions Exchange group from Gananoque that visited South Dundas stated that the website looked good; the only issue was some out of date information or content. Building a new website would not fix the issue of out-of-date content.
Mayor Delegarde has consistently said during council discussions that she does not like the calendar of events. Building a new website could fix that. So would hiring a firm to replace the calendar on the existing website. That sort of thing is done all the time. Modern sites, including South Dundas’, are built in modules like Lego blocks. A website can be taken apart into its individual bricks, new features added, old features removed and built up into something new. This would cost far less than the $50,000 budgeted.
Building a new website does not necessarily make it up-to-date, as administration would still have to provide content for a new website. If content is, in fact, the issue, why isn’t it already updated on the current site? South Dundas does have a full-time communications co-ordinator on staff, and most department heads have assistants.
Communications and tourism co-ordinator Katherine Wells pointed to South Stormont and their new website as an exemplar. While South Stormont’s website looks pretty and has consistent co-branding to the Upper Canada Region, it has less features than the existing South Dundas website. Graphics can be changed on a website, it is just another Lego block to be changed this way or that.
South Dundas has an infrastructure deficit in the millions. The community is still fighting to keep it’s schools open. There are projects that could make far better use of $50,000, more so than worries about changing a bunch of ones-and-zeros on a screen; from waterfront to sidewalks, there are a number of better alternatives for that money, our money.
This high priced project is ill-timed and ill-conceived. Council and administration should go back to the drawing board to find a solution that is more affordable. There are better things to do with the money in the community.