Port Clements council decided Monday night (Feb. 19) to move slowly on any changes to the village's television service, after councillors said they had heard from dozens of residents on the surprisingly controversial subject.
But they did vote to ask Greg Stewart, the volunteer who runs the Port TV Society, if it would be possible to drop two signals - TSN and WDIV, a channel from Detroit. That would save the village around $1,500 a year, and leave residents with CFMI, City TV, Global BC, Knowledge Network and CBC.
"That would cut the bill substantially and still offer a minimum service to the people," said councillor Brock Storry.
Councillor Urs Thomas voted against the motion, saying Port residents don't want changes to the cable system.
But mayor Cory Delves said he supports a review of the TV service. The village's mandate is to supply residents with services like sewer and water, he said, not television. Changing technology means that Port residents now have access to satellite TV services like Starchoice or Bell Express Vu, which weren't available years ago when the TV Society started up, and most residents are using satellite dishes.
"Some taxpayers have never received service from the TV Society," Mr. Delves said, yet they are forced to pay for it every year as part of their municipal taxes.
The TV Society received $6,500 last year from the village to run the cable service.
In response, Mr. Thomas pointed out that the village provides other facilities which not all residents use, such as the Sunset Trail.
Councillor Wally Cheer said he had spoken to about 20 people about the issue. Most said they don't use the cable service themselves, but didn't object to the village funding it.
"I don't want to go down a route where we're depriving people who couldn't afford it of a TV signal," Mr. Cheer said.
But most council members agreed that reducing the TV service gradually is the best approach. They won't be making a decision about TSN and WDIV until they hear back from Mr. Stewart about the feasibility of dropping these two channels, although Mr. Stewart did write in an e-mail to council that the signal providers can be cut with two months notice.