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No creeping for County of Wetaskiwin

County council directs investigation into social media platforms

The County of Wetaskiwin will not be moving forward with a social media policy until council has a better understanding of what can and cannot be done with such accounts and what it will cost the county in resources.

The decision to hold off on approving the policy came during council’s March 13 meeting.

The vote was split 4-3, with reeve Kathy Rooyakkers and councillors Lyle Seely and Ken Adair opposed to the delay.

“I personally don’t think we’re moving too fast, we’re moving slowly. We say we’re a progressive county,” said Rooyakkers.

Rooyakkers says younger generations exist more online and on their phones and the county needs to stay on top of tactics to ensure it is effectively reaching all its ratepayers. “I don’t want to just cater to one group. We need to engage the youth … They’re our future.”

As the social media policy was presented to councillors they were also presented with the results from the 2015 Communicating with the County survey.

When asked what other types of communication residents would like the county to use 48.7 per cent of the responses indicated an electronic newsletter, which was the highest rated option.

Of the seven options Facebook came in at 18.7 per cent, Twitter had 2.4 per cent, and podcasts had one per cent of the votes.

Acting CAO Rod Hawken says many of the responses came from the county’s older ratepayers.

Based on the percentages, Coun. Josh Bishop feels the priority is not there. “That’s money we don’t need to spend right now.”

Hawken explained one of the main questions with a social media policy is how encompassing of a tack it will become.

“I believe we’re moving forward too quickly on some of this stuff,” said Coun. Terry Van de Kraats. “At what cost will it come, because there will be a cost.”

Bishop feels the county’s website is already a significant investment. He added if residents have concerns and need to contact the county they should write an email rather than “spouting” on social media.

Van de Kraats agrees with Bishop’s sentiments and posed the question, if the information is available on the County of Wetaskiwin website why would the county need another online presence.

“I guess I’m a bit on the fence. I think we need to do our due diligence,” said Coun. Bill Krahn.

Seely suggested the county reach out to other municipalities who have implemented successful social media plans. “We seem to be scared of it.”

“I’m not fearful of anything. I’ve been around a long time on this earth. This concern comes back to implementation and costs. I don’t think it’s necessary,” said Van de Kraats.