Thunder Bay aims to reduce closed-door council meetings
Council business more complex than a decade ago, Ken Boschoff says
Posted: Nov 1, 2012 10:46 AM ET
Last Updated: Nov 1, 2012 11:13 AM ET
Thunder Bay's City Clerk is working to limit the number of closed-door meetings after the province’s ombudsman issued a report saying too many municipal councils spend too much time in-camera.
John Hannam said Thunder Bay follows the strict rules surrounding in-camera meetings, but he is working with city department managers to bring as much information as possible into open meetings.
"We try to minimize the time that we spend in closed session,” he said. “So that there isn't an impression in the public that we're doing business behind closed doors. We're certainly not."Thunder Bay city councillor Ken Boschoff (thunderbay.ca)
Councillor Ken Boschoff said council’s job has become more difficult, necessitating more closed-door meetings, since he was a mayor a decade ago.
"The complexity of many of these legal issues means council has lots of questions," Boschoff said.
Keeing information 'in the public eye'
But Boschoff said councillors often remind each other — when they are behind closed doors — that some matters can only be discussed in an open meeting.
The goal is to keep as much information as possible in the public eye, Hannam said, but some topics require discretion.
"Particularly if we're buying land we don't want it out in the marketplace that we're interested in a particular piece of land before we've had an opportunity to enquire about its price," Hannam said.
But, he added, council may be too zealous about having closed meetings when it's discussing the sale of municipal property.
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