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Mayor defends proposed spending of $1.3 million to revamp city website and app

Click to play video: 'Mayor defends proposed spending of $1.3 million to revamp city website and app' Mayor defends proposed spending of $1.3 million to revamp city website and app
It was a tough budget at city hall, but as more details unfold about what money is being spent where, not everybody is happy about council's choices. Jules Knox has more on the surprising cost of an updated service that some say, isn't needed – Jul 11, 2017

Mayor Michael Fougere said the city’s proposed plan for redoing their website and their app is something they “have to do.”

Mayor Fougere was on Global News Tuesday morning talking about the project. The work would cost about $1.255 million over two years.

Click to play video: 'Mayor Fougere – July 11' Mayor Fougere – July 11
Mayor Fougere – July 11 – Jul 11, 2017

“The website itself and the app are about ten years old now,” Fougere said. “It’s not a very good website. It’s old. We (have) hundreds of lines of business people ask about all the time.”

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“Other cities have spent that much money. Saskatoon spent that much money, Edmonton just went through a major re-haul of theirs,” the mayor said. “It’s not a cheap way to do this, but we have to get it done if people expect information on the website.”

The reason the city needs approval for this project is because it will be costing over $500,000.

According to the recommendation, the revamp will allow the city to reduce paper communication, provide more transparent communication with residents and get the site up to accessibility standards.

Despite a difficult provincial budget, whose cuts impacted the municipal budget as well, Fougere says the project is a must.

“I’m not worried about the optics at all. We have to get it done.”

“If we talk to them about our budget process and how we go through that, should we not ask them what they think? It really is a balance of, look, we don’t stop doing business because of budget constraints, we do want to reach out to the public and make sure they know what we’re doing and we get their input. So it costs money to do that.”

Todd MacKay of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wants the city to make sure they are being careful with their spending in the wake of the provincial budget.

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“Just because they planned it in the past doesn’t mean they need to do all of it right now, or all of it at once. So we need them to look back and make sure they’re getting the best price, that it all needs to be done, and that all of it needs to be done right now,” MacKay said.

“All of us have put off plans that we’ve had in the past when there’s tough times. City Hall needs to make sure they’re considering the same situation.”

However, a revamp isn’t as simple as some might think.

Adnan Arshad is the project and marketing manager at Adaptive Media, a website design company in Regina. He says that people are often surprised at how much work goes into creating a new website.

“Just to transfer the content (on the city website) alone would require a significant amount of resources and hours,” said Arshad. “It’s not a simple project. Most small businesses would have a five page website (…) The average cost for that is anywhere from $5 to 10 thousand dollars.”

“In this case, it will be a complete overhaul, so I can imagine that this project is not as simple as a lot of us would think it is.”

This matter will be before council on July 31, 2017.

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Jules Knox will have this story at 6.

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