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Mar 19,2005 - Tri City News


By Janis Cleugh - Tri City News
Mar 19 2005

Port Coquitlam mayor Len Traboulay christened it "The Age of Aquarius" when Smart Choices was launched in May 2000 in Tri-City.
But three months later, the city of PoCo pulled out of negotiations after learning its contribution would be at least $750,000 and rejecting the governance model.
"The other concern we identified was that this was something very new, with research and development dollars, and we really took a good, hard look at whether or not we should be putting taxpayers' dollars into that area," said Mayor Scott Young, a PoCo councillor at the time. "I think there's a strong argument for letting the private sector do that rather than leveraging property taxes."
With internet fast becoming an important communications tool, the city voted to hire CGI to redesign and upgrade its website at a cost of $50,000.
City spokesperson Kathleen Vincent said the new homepage doesn't offer as much as the Smart Choices' portal,, because it caters exclusively to city services but she said it can be expanded down the road (a web technician is expected to be hired this year to maintain the city website). One such example is its link to that was added last summer for registration to rec programs - similar to Smart Choices' SignMeUp.
Vincent said it's nearly impossible to compare with PoCo's site. "It's almost like asking what the Vancouver Sun offers compared to The Tri-City News," she said. "It serves different purposes. One is a portal and one is a website. What we offer is comparable to the other two cities' websites."
Robin Wishart, a former Port Moody city employee who worked on the Smart Choices project and is now PoCo's manager of information services, said the main difference between the two technology programs is the overall cost to local residents. "[pocos'> is a much smaller price tag," he said.
Still, Smart Choices is not just a portal, said spokesperson Hilary Horlock. "Citysoup also provides the web infrastructure, hosting and services - including e-payments on online registration - for the city hall websites of Coquitlam and Port Moody, the library systems of Coquitlam and Port Moody, local businesses and community groups and schools," she said. "Since the launch of the citysoup portal in June 2003, more than 500 events, businesses and community organizations have been featured on the home page and more than 120 organizations update the community calendar with in excess of 100 new events each month. Citysoup has provided website training, construction, hosting and ongoing support to more than 165 local small businesses and non-profit organizations, as well as 50 elementary school websites."

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