EDITORIAL: Open the doors

The amount of time being spent by Qualicum Beach town council in camera is shocking

Residents of Qualicum Beach should be concerned about the amount of time their elected officials spend behind closed doors.

If you looked at the total amount of time the members of this town council spend together talking about town business, easily 75 per cent of it in the past six months has been in camera, away from the prying eyes and ears of the media and the members of the public who fund the municipality. And that, shockingly, is a conservative estimate.

The Community Charter, the law of the land if you will for municipalities, allows closed-door sessions for the purposes of considering legal advice, land acquisitions and personnel matters.

The actual charter is more verbose on this, but that’s the gist.

The free flow of information between taxpayer, elected official and municipal employee is crucial in a democracy. It’s called transparency, it’s a basic tenet and should be treated with respect.

So, the question needs to be asked: are the senior staff, mayor and councillors of Qualicum Beach respecting the absolute need for open government?

When there is a lack of information, something naturally fills the void. We have to fight off the urge to buy into conspiracy theories, and there’s really no good reason to believe all of these people are in cahoots to purposely keep the public in the dark.

So, what’s the deal?

Our theory is there are some serious personnel issues currently being hashed out behind closed doors at Qualicum Beach town hall. While these are inherently sensitive issues, town councillors are elected to make tough decisions. Doing so in a timely and transparent fashion is not a lot to ask.

Communications are not important to this municipality. Despite hollow speeches about it being a priority, the town no longer has a full-time communications person.

Couple that with hours and hours of behind-closed-doors meetings, and it should be no wonder the rumour mill is working overtime to the point where some innocent people are going to be unfairly tarred with a dirty brush.

— Editorial by John Harding

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