EDITORIAL: Open government isn’t just a talking point

It will be interesting to see how many times, and for what purposes, local councils go behind closed doors

Modern-day candidates and politicians talk a good game about transparency, open government and public consultation.

Part of our job is to make sure they aren’t blowing smoke.

With new councils in place in the Regional District of Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach, we looked up the section of B.C.’s Community Charter that relates to closed meetings. The list of circumstances in which a council can close meetings — go ‘in camera’ as it’s called — is a long one. Too long, we’d submit. In fact, one could make an argument every piece of business a council conducts could fall into one or more of the categories that allows for in camera proceedings.

That stated, let’s get back to campaign promises and how candidates love to spout how they will be more open and transparent and seek more public input.

The best way to seek public input is to have open debates on topics, not behind-closed-door discussions. Councillors generally have more information about the issues at hand because they have taxpayer-funded staff to provide them with pertinent facts.

With that info, their open, public debates can allow the public to form opinions not only on the subject at hand, but also about how they might rate the performance of their elected officials.

There is no reason, for example, for the RDN board to go in camera to talk about its relationship with the Island Corridor Foundation. Parksville council should not hide behind closed doors to talk about downtown revitalization, Craig Street or the PDBA. Qualicum Beach taxpayers should hear all of the discussions about any plans to change bylaws enacted by the previous council.

We believe councils in this region are too quick to go in camera. What’s worse is the woeful lack of reporting from those closed-door meetings, which is to say we believe there are parts of the discussions and motions that flow from these in camera sessions that are not being shared with the public.

We get there are labour issues, personnel issues and land-acquisition issues that need to be discussed outside of the eyes and ears of the public and the media.

However, we believe these newly-sworn-in councils should double their efforts to ensure the maximum amount of debate on the issues at hand is done in public.

— Editorial by John Harding

Just Posted

Parksville Qualicum Beach legions set to launch Poppy Campaign

Annual fundraiser to run from Oct. 25 to Nov. 11

Bear sightings up significantly in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Fruit trees number one food attractant, says conservation officer

Parksville Qualicum Beach crime report: Thieves pilfer laptops, tools, big-screen TV, cash and more

Oceanside RCMP received 256 complaints between Sept. 29 and Oct. 5.

Qualicum Bay writer Linda Tenney dies after battle with cancer

Celebration of life set for Nov. 2 at Lighthouse Community Centre

Pole-climbing thieves pilfering wire in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Repairs are costly and thefts jeopardize public safety

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Union says Western Forest Products refuses to budge from ‘unreasonable concessions’

According to a press release, both parties met on Oct. 16, 18, 19, and 20.

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Environment Canada issues gale warnings for western Vancouver Island

Gale warnings in effect for most of Vancouver Island and west coast Mainland

Report suggests new BC Ferries terminal near YVR

Metro Vancouver currently has two ferry terminals at northern and southern reaches

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Most Read