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Lacombe launches new municipal webpage

Brice Roy/ Lacombe Globe

It was out with the old and in with the new in more ways than one during the first meeting of the recently elected Lacombe city council.

Not only was Mayor Steve Christie and the six councillors sworn into office, but the city also officially launched its new website.

After a soft launch the week prior to test the site, city staff officially unveiled the new, more user friendly website during the Oct. 28 council meeting.

“I very pleased to launch the City of Lacombe’s new website tonight,” said Norma McQuarrie, CAO City of Lacombe.

“This truly has been the combination of lots of hard work, creativity, and planning on the part of our IT staff and Vision Internet the consultant we hired to assist us.”

Several months ago, city staff and the consultant began the process of designing a new more interactive and easier to navigate website.

“Our old site served us well, but it was dated and in need of an overhaul,” said McQuarrie.

“The new site incorporates a striking design, intuitive navigation, advanced features, easier to access information and features, and it’s an online hub that can be viewed by most current web browsers unlike the old site. The homepage was designed for immediate connectivity. It includes everything from popular search menus and calendar feed to direct social media and networking links. In the event of an emergency, such as a severe weather warning, we can immediately post notices to the website.”

But wait there’s more.

In the near future, the City of Lacombe will also bring a second site online to help staff communicate. The city is also exploring the ability to accept payments online.

“Among the new features is the ability for staff to build customized pages rather than using a set style, we also have more interactivity with users,” said McQuarrie.

“An internal website for staff will also be brought online shortly which will allow staff to communicate with each other. We will also have the ability to process online payments.”

The new council was for the most part receptive to the new site, especially the navigation.

“One of the biggest things I found about the old site was that people always had a hard time finding the information they were looking for,” said Coun. Wayne Rempel.

“I picked three or four topics that I thought might be of interest to the residents, such as cats, dogs, and garbage. It’s amazing the number of links that came up on the site to take me right to it.”

It wasn’t all peaches and cream from council. There was some concern over the way agenda packages are displayed.

“I have to admit, I liked the old way we had our agenda packages better,” said Coun. Peter Bouwsema. “Having the main agenda document separate from the memorandums was much easier to go back to information that you had read.”

McQuarrie said the city will offer councillors the opportunity to receive training to become more familiar with the site.

“We’re getting used to a new system as it were, in terms of how to access agendas,” she said.

“I think some additional training with council would be very helpful. The systems themselves won’t change, it’s just a matter of getting everyone the necessary training.”

In an age when technology is improving faster than a BMW on the Autobahn, the bottom line was that to remain transparent the city needed to adapt.

“It will allows us to continue to be transparent and to continue to communicate with our public,” said McQuarrie.

“It will facilitate taking the municipality forward as technology is ever evolving and developing.”

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