Local government looks to clean up maze of websites

Regional district will try to bring a dozen peripheral sites back under one umbrella

The regional district is looking to get its peripheral websites brought back under one umbrella

The regional district is looking to get its peripheral websites brought back under one umbrella

Fresh off its own website redesign, the regional district will now look at bringing some of its digital offspring back into the fold.

About a dozen peripheral websites have popped up over the years that are linked to the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, although the connections are not always clear.

The peripherals range from a site created by the Kaleden Recreation Commission to one aimed exclusively at Area F residents.

“Up until now, there’s been no real restrictions on creating a website, including the choice of a provider, the branding or content on a site,” Tim Bouwmeester, information services manager for the RODS, last week told a board committee.

He said the “inconsistent branding” across the sites can confuse people about who is actually behind them, and could pose a problem if content creators are not aware of legal issues or application of freedom of information laws related to government organizations.

Directors agreed to have staff explore the possibility of having a third-party company look after all peripheral websites using a single content management system.

Princeton Director Brad Hope said he created his own web page in 2010 to reach out to the 60 per cent of his constituents who are seasonal residents only. However, his page hasn’t been updated since March 2010.

Allan Patton, the director for rural Oliver, told colleagues he couldn’t see the point in developing his own website when a local newspaper and website already provide information to area residents.

“I think it would just be redundant for me to build my own,” Patton said.

The Area F website, created in 2009 by RDOS Director Michael Brydon, was mentioned several times as successful model that others could emulate. Brydon uses his page to survey opinions and update residents on area-specific projects on the West Bench.

He wasn’t at the meeting, but said afterwards via email that the website uses free, open-source software and is hosted by a third-party provider for about $4 per month.

“The site was an experiment so I did not want to burden RDOS information technology staff with all sorts of requests,” Brydon explained.

He added that the site’s content management system “is easy to use once it is set up, so non-technical directors could use it as a more direct and more personal means of communicating information.”