GRAVENHURST - With a designer now in place, Gravenhurst’s new web site and site is due to go live in mid-December.
During its Sept. 4 meeting, council approved award-winning eSolutions Group to lead the site’s design and future maintenance with an eye to go live worldwide come Dec. 14.
“We’re looking for a real knock-out site that looks good but more importantly, that’s functional and that will allow our residents, stakeholders and businesses to be more informed and transact, and we believe create efficiencies throughout the corporation as well,” town director of economic development and communications Tony Rossi explained.
“It’s about communicating; our key theme has always been to transact, interact and inform (through the site),” Rossi added. “We’re really happy to say that through selecting eSolutions we’re going to be able to do that.”
The town received a number of tenders from a request for proposal process that began some months ago, following a public meeting that was used to gauge the public’s desires for a web portal.
With a budget of $85,000 thanks to funds allocated to the town through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), Rossi said the winning bid of $49,050 was not only the low bid, but provided a long list of services and programming beyond other submissions.
He explained as the nearly $50,000 bid is less taxes, Internet hosting fees and annual service fees, when the project is complete, the town will be close to the $85,000 limit. That will include the potential addition of some special services as well, such as including transaction abilities (to pay for such things as bylaw fines, development fees, facility rentals or taxes) and a municipal calculator. In the future, services such as a complete record-search function, video streaming or tablet voting for councillors could be added in the future, he added.
“They’ve got some really great, outside-of-the-box ideas and they really want to deliver something special,” Rossi said.
CAO Frank Miele explained there will be some annual costs associated with the new portal come 2013, including $4,250 for software services, usage, staff training and maintenance and an about $1,000 a year for hosting costs.
He added, however, that the town operates about eight websites currently and there will be savings by creating a singular portal.
Although American-based, Rossi explained eSolutions has worked with more than 100 municipalities, cities and towns across Canada and Ontario, including the Orillia Public Library and Huntsville’s theatre, heritage and library sites and is fully compliant with the Ontario disabilities act. He said the company has won a number of awards for its work in Ontario communities and has a solid knowledge of municipal needs in terms of website content.
Rossi said the goal is have the website go live on Dec. 14 and come the first of February, all services should be available through the Internet.
The town is also hosting a photo contest for the website, with submissions due by 4:30 p.m. Sept. 21. For more information about the contest or to make submissions, check out the town’s website.