Council deliberates on lengthy list of secret items

City council was expected to have lengthy discussions Monday evening – behind closed doors.

Seven different items were to be discussed in-camera both before and after Monday night’s regular council meeting.

Topics debated by council in-camera are closed to both the public and the media, as regulated by the province’s Community Charter.

Monday’s meeting contained the most in-camera items of any other council meeting dating back to at least Jan. 19, 2015.

The items, as described in the meeting agenda, are related to:

n The consideration of information received and held in confidence relating to negotiations between the municipality and a provincial government or the federal government or both, or between a provincial government or the federal government or both and a third party.

n Negotiations and related discussions respecting the proposed provision of a municipal service that are at their preliminary stages and that, in the view of the council, could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality if they were held in public.

n Litigation or potential litigation affecting the municipality.

n Law enforcement, if the council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the conduct of an investigation under or enforcement of an enactment.

n Labour relations or employee negotiations.

n Personal information about an identifiable individual who holds or is being considered for a position as an officer, employee or agent of the municipality or another position appointed by the municipality.

n 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.

 

 

 

The number of in-camera items varies with each meeting. Both council meetings in March each had five in-camera items scheduled while the two meetings in February had four and two items, respectively. Council meetings on Dec. 14, 2015 and Nov. 23, 2015 each had six in-camera items on the agenda while a meeting this past Jan. 11 had three in-camera items.

In-camera discussions typically take place before the start of the regular council meeting, as announced by Mayor Andy Adams in his inaugural speech shortly after being elected to the mayor’s office.

“In-camera meetings will be conducted prior to open council meetings where possible so that in-camera information may rise and report and be open to the public without delay,” Adams said during the current council’s inaugural meeting in December, 2014.

Councils are permitted under the Community Charter to keep municipal matters away from the public if they pertain to labour relations, acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land, a municipal service in its preliminary stage, or litigation or potential litigation affecting the local government, among other things.

According to a September 2012 report conducted by the BC Ombudsman on open meetings, “generally, it will be appropriate to close a meeting where discussion of a subject in an open meeting raises a reasonable and identifiable possibility of damage to the interests of the local government, the public, or a third party.”

 

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