EDITORIAL: Try negotiating a price now, Parksville

There's a good reason some specific items must be discussed behind closed doors

What Coun. Bill Neufeld did Wednesday night certainly wasn’t illegal. Was it irresponsible? You be the judge.

The new business portion of a city council meeting is a time for elected officials to talk about the meetings and events they have attended since the last meeting and a time to bring issues to the floor to give their colleagues a heads up on motions that may be introduced in the future.

When an election is looming, the new business portion of the meeting can get a little goofy and grandstanding becomes more prevalent.

On Wednesday, Neufeld — a first-term councillor who announced he was going to take a run at the mayor’s job only months after his first council meeting — gave his colleagues a heads up about some kind of motion he intends to bring forward in the future.

He spoke about the Surfside RV Resort and how it was for sale for $7.5 million and how it would be a great acquisition for the city, an extension of Parksville Community Park.

There’s no way to tell at this point whether Neufeld’s speech in an open meeting will have any effect on any sale of the resort, its price or the ability of the city to negotiate same if it does entertain such a purchase.

While we loathe the amount of time councils around here spend behind closed doors, it’s difficult to argue against the guideline that personnel and land acquisition discussions should be held in camera. In setting out what matters can be discussed in camera, the Community Charter of B.C. (Section 90, 1. e) says “the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements, if the council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality.”

Was Neufeld acting irresponsibly by raising the possibility of the city buying this land in an open meeting? Is this the kind of action we could expect from Neufeld if he ever became the city’s top elected official, the person who signs the cheques?

Colour us concerned.

— Editorial by John Harding

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