Calgary city council spent 14% of meeting time behind closed doors last year

Calgary city council spent 14 per cent of regular council meeting time in closed-door sessions in a year.

Council to hear a report on closed-door sessions on Tuesday

City council will hear a report on how to reduce the time it spends in closed-door meetings on Tuesday. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Calgary city council spent roughly 14 per cent of its meeting time in closed-door sessions in a year.

Coun. Ward Sutherland posted details of the time spent in closed-door meetings on Facebook Wednesday, saying he's pleased an upcoming report brings forward recommendations to reduce the time spent away from public sessions and provides more transparency to Calgarians about what's being discussed.

"I find that we spend most of our time in closed camera dealing with land transactions. Many of these would be better addressed at the committee level rather than at council," he wrote.

In April, Coun. Peter Demong brought forward a notice of motion directing administration to prepare a report on the closed-door sessions.

That report will be presented to the priorities and finance committee on Tuesday.

The sessions were a topic of discussion this week after Coun. Jeromy Farkas accused his colleagues of first bullying him, then walking out while he was speaking in a session — a complaint Coun. Jyoti Gondek called an "abject lie."

Sutherland's post said that from May 1, 2017, to May 31, 2018, a total of 306 items were discussed in closed-door meetings, 189 at council meetings and 117 at council committee meetings.

Council spent 549 hours and 93 minutes in meetings during that period of time, and 76 minutes in closed-door sessions.

Here's how the topics discussed broke down:

  • 32 per cent land transactions.
  • 12 per cent personnel matters.
  • 12 per cent member appointments to boards, committees and commissions.
  • Nine per cent intergovernmental issues. 
  • Nine per cent audits.
  • Eight per cent on facilities, the Olympic bid project and cannabis.
  • Seven per cent on industry updates on gas, power and telecommunications.
  • Six per cent on legal briefings.

Last year, the Manning Foundation reported that council spent 23.7 per cent of its time behind closed doors between 2013 and 2017, up from 19 per cent the previous term.


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