Parksville city council carried forward a new policy that would allow the disclosure of business conducted in closed meetings, with the aim of greater transparency in city governance. It passed unanimously at the Dec. 16 council meeting.
Council will now be able to speak on business discussed in a closed council meeting, at an open meeting immediately following.
The decision on whether or not to rise and report information from closed meetings lies in the hands of council and the CAO.
The new policy would also see the CAO submit a year-end report that would provide a summary of all business conducted in closed council meetings that calendar year.
Council is allowed to omit business that would go against legislative requirements, or create any other “potentially harmful effects” to the city, council or staff.
Coun. Adam Fras spoke in support of the policy.
“Just to add into the transparency that people are always asking for, I think this council – everybody here had talked about running a very transparent and accountable council. It’s wonderful to be able to bring things out of closed council meetings when we’re able to,” said Fras.
“I’m excited to see this come forward, and I hope that the community is appreciative of the work we’ve done.”
Coun. Teresa Patterson said that as the longest serving member on council, she welcomes the change.
“There’s been a great deal of special closed council meetings at the past, and I have to think back at times to know what’s been released and what hasn’t been. This is so welcomed, on my part. I really do believe in our communities, and I just wanted to thank the rest of council for bringing it forward at this time,” said Patterson.
Though for the most part council meetings must be made publicly available, Community Charter Act of B.C. allows some council meetings to be closed to the public for certain subject matters. These include discussions of personal information, labour relations, security of the municipality’s property, acquisition or disposition of land, law enforcement and litigation, among other things.