Garon says closed Council "just democracy"


#1

Apparently, councillor Garon is just fine with the way Council operates, condescendingly suggesting we bumpkins just don’t understand the process and that’s “just the way democracy works.”

thenorthernview.com/news/280849202.html


#2

If there’s one thing democracy stands for its certainly operating out of the public eye. I mean any idiot with a 10th grade education knows that.


#3

[quote=“drummerboy”]Apparently, councillor Garon is just fine with the way Council operates, condescendingly suggesting we bumpkins just don’t understand the process and that’s “just the way democracy works.”

thenorthernview.com/news/280849202.html[/quote]

Arrogant Garon dont even know if she is running again? But have never voted for and never will


#4

[quote=“jamesbrown”]

[quote=“drummerboy”]Apparently, councillor Garon is just fine with the way Council operates, condescendingly suggesting we bumpkins just don’t understand the process and that’s “just the way democracy works.”

thenorthernview.com/news/280849202.html[/quote]

Arrogant Garon dont even know if she is running again? But have never voted for and never will[/quote]

I have voted for her, but I don’t get the impression that her heart is really in it. Time to give someone else a chance. Vote for change.


#5

She definitely should have phrased it better. But at the end of the day, there is a lot of stuff that the local government act says must be in camera. Is that how democracy works? Well she is partially right. We have elected representatives to make decisions on our behalf. That is how democracy works. But present-day taxpayers expect more than simple representation. Often – especially here in the INTERNET world – they ask to be provided with information on business dealings and personnel decisions that city council just can’t provide. And when the government does take a big decision to the public, the public often shows disinterest and council is forced to make a decision on its own, anyway – as it was elected to do.


#6

The Local Government Act governs regional district board meetings. Municipal council meetings are governed by the Community Charter. There’s not much that “must” be done in closed meetings. There are no requirements, for instance, to create a City owned corporation, transfer land, or enter into deals with energy companies in closed meetings. Here is the full list of what “must” be discussed in closed meetings:

"90(2) A part of a council meeting must be closed to the public if the subject matter being considered relates to one or more of the following:

(a) a request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, if the council is designated as head of the local public body for the purposes of that Act in relation to the matter;

(b) 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;

© a matter that is being investigated under the Ombudsperson Act of which the municipality has been notified under section 14 [Ombudsperson to notify authority] of that Act;

(d) a matter that, under another enactment, is such that the public must be excluded from the meeting.

(e) a review of a proposed final performance audit report for the purpose of providing comments to the auditor general on the proposed report under section 23 (2) of the Auditor General for Local Government Act."

bclaws.ca/civix/document/LOC … #section90


#7

You also mean to add:

90 (1) A part of a council meeting may be closed to the public if the subject matter being considered relates to or is one or more of the following:

(a) 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;
(b) personal information about an identifiable individual who is being considered for a municipal award or honour, or who has offered to provide a gift to the municipality on condition of anonymity;
© labour relations or other employee relations;
(d) the security of the property of the municipality;
(e) 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;
(f) 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;
(g) litigation or potential litigation affecting the municipality;

But I’m just saying.


#8

[quote=“TerriblePerson”]You also mean to add:

90 (1) A part of a council meeting may be closed to the public if the subject matter being considered relates to or is one or more of the following:

(a) 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;
(b) personal information about an identifiable individual who is being considered for a municipal award or honour, or who has offered to provide a gift to the municipality on condition of anonymity;
© labour relations or other employee relations;
(d) the security of the property of the municipality;
(e) 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;
(f) 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;
(g) litigation or potential litigation affecting the municipality;

But I’m just saying.[/quote]

No, I definitely do not mean to add s90(1). Read the first line more closely: “A part of a council meeting may be closed to the public …”. It’s a discretion (“may”) that this council uses all too often, not a legal requirement (“must”) that meetings be closed.


#9

[quote=“BTravenn”]

[quote=“TerriblePerson”]You also mean to add:

90 (1) A part of a council meeting may be closed to the public if the subject matter being considered relates to or is one or more of the following:

(a) 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;
(b) personal information about an identifiable individual who is being considered for a municipal award or honour, or who has offered to provide a gift to the municipality on condition of anonymity;
© labour relations or other employee relations;
(d) the security of the property of the municipality;
(e) 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;
(f) 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;
(g) litigation or potential litigation affecting the municipality;

But I’m just saying.[/quote]

No, I definitely do not mean to add s90(1). Read the first line more closely: “A part of a council meeting may be closed to the public …”. It’s a discretion (“may”) that this council uses all too often, not a legal requirement (“must”) that meetings be closed.[/quote]

Do you know of any council that talks about any of the above topics in public?


#10

[quote=“TerriblePerson”]

No, I definitely do not mean to add s90(1). Read the first line more closely: “A part of a council meeting may be closed to the public …”. It’s a discretion (“may”) that this council uses all too often, not a legal requirement (“must”) that meetings be closed.

Do you know of any council that talks about any of the above topics in public?[/quote]

What I have seen elsewhere is that a council will talk about those issues in closed meetings, particularly if personal information, land negotiations or legal advice is involved, then refer the matter to the public meeting for a decision. The public then knows who voted for or against if the issue is contentious and generally there is more information than what is provided through this council’s terse announcements.

What tends to happen here, from what I can see, is that something may be discussed in a closed meeting and no one is too concerned if it is, but then the council implements those discussions by making decisions that either should not or need not be considered in a closed meeting.

So, for instance, considering who should receive an award involves personal information and may be considered in a closed meeting under paragraph (b) above. No one has a problem with that. But why was a new awards policy approved in a closed meeting, as was done during Jack’s first term? There is no authority to make policy decisions in closed meetings. That’s not on either the “may” list or the “must” list.

Some donors came forward to offer a donation towards the cost of the Snowbirds coming to town. That is also covered by paragraph (b), and having a closed meeting to discuss that is no problem. But then the council went one step further and at the same meeting decided to contribute City funds, which reversed a decision that had been made at a public meeting. After Black Press pointed out the error, the council reconsidered the issue at a public meeting.

The council has had discussions about selling Lot 444. Paragraph (e) says that council may consider the “disposition” of City land in a closed meeting, but note “if the council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality.” If the council is negotiating with Imperial/Exxon the City’s interests may be harmed if the issue is discussed in public. Fair enough.

But why set up a City owned corporation and then transfer the land to the corporation in a closed meeting? Those are stand alone decisions that take effect whether a sales agreement is eventually concluded with Imperial/Exxon or not. Just because something was discussed at a closed meeting in another context does not mean that a decision can be made in a closed meeting.

Councillor Thorkelson gave some explanation at the recent election forum: "“We cannot sell land and put that money from land into infrastructure. We can only put money from land into land”. < bclaws.ca/civix/document/LOC … section188 >.)

In any event, there is no authority under s90 for creating a City owned corporation in a closed meeting. When CityWest was incorporated there was full disclosure in public meetings (the board members were, and since then have been, appointed in closed meetings, but that is covered by paragraph (a) above).

As for transferring Lot 444 to the new Legacy Corporation, a transfer is a “disposition” under paragraph (e), but again note the requirement that the decision may be made at a closed meeting only if disclosure at a public meeting “could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality.”

What harm would have come from deciding in a public meeting to transfer City land from the City to a corporation owned and controlled by the City through its’ council? If no one on council can give a reasonable answer to that question the decision should not have been made at a closed meeting.


#11

the only reason i can see for them to set up a city corporation is that if the city corporation agrees to sell the land for X dollars then the city itself does not have to advertise in the paper, or anywhere else for that matter, for a competing or better bid. In other words bypassing the laws governing municipalities on disposition of assets or land


#12

There seems always to be a small group of people who continue to complain about the lack of transparency by Council.

If this group wanted to do more than whine they could be writing letters to the Provincial Minister responsible for municipalities. The Minister can, if the allegations seem serious enough, conduct an investigation.

Personally, based on the information that Council releases about the debates in closed meetings, I don’t have much of a problem about Council having those debates in the closed meeting. Given the information that is released, it seems that the right issues are being discussed in closed meetings. An exception was of course the decision to support the Airshow people. Council did rectify that mistake and, I believe, apologized. Was the error a screw up by Council or staff - who knows?

Transparency is all well and good, but when you are discussing possible business deals or legal issues, holding your discussions in public can really jeopardize your bargaining position or legal position. I doubt very much that they are making decisions in closed meetings that provide any type of benefit to themselves or their friends (after a couple of year on Council, it is wonder that they have any).

I am not sure of why the Town created a Corporation, transferred the land to the corporation and then sold the land. Some of the more common reasons for a business entity to create a subsidiary is to limit: business risk, legal risk and insurance risk.

I doubt they created the Corporation so that they could avoid the need for transparency as a number of years ago, the Freedom of Information Office ruled that a School District could not withhold the financial records of a subsidiary corporation. I suspect that the ruling would apply to the business of CityWest and any other corporate body wholly owned by the municipality. Moreover as a Municipal Corporation, I suspect that the articles of the Community Charter that related to the disposition of land by a Municipality, would apply to a Corporation owned by a Muncipality.


#13

According to councillor Thorkelson the land is being (or has been) transferred to the Legacy Corporation because, in her words, “We cannot sell land and put that money from land into infrastructure. We can only put money from land into land”. That’s not completely correct.

Maybe there’s a good reason for transferring City land to a City corporation, but what harm would come from making that decision in public? If there is no harm, the “general rule” applies that decisions will be made in public.

[quote=“Pantagruel”]
I doubt they created the Corporation so that they could avoid the need for transparency as a number of years ago, the Freedom of Information Office ruled that a School District could not withhold the financial records of a subsidiary corporation. I suspect that the ruling would apply to the business of CityWest and any other corporate body wholly owned by the municipality.[/quote]

Yes, and there was a more recent decision (in Burns Lake) that a municipal corporation cannot withhold financial records, and I think you are right, that should apply to CityWest and the Legacy Corporation. But an FOI is disclosure to the applicant, not the public. The media sometimes makes FOIs, which can make for some interesting reporting.

[quote=“Pantagruel”]
Moreover as a Municipal Corporation, I suspect that the articles of the Community Charter that related to the disposition of land by a Municipality, would apply to a Corporation owned by a Muncipality.[/quote]

Unfortunately those requirements do not apply to a City corporation. If the City wants to sell land the Community Charter requires that it issue a notice putting the property up for bids, or if it was a direct sale the notice must disclose the particulars, including the price < bclaws.ca/civix/document/LOC … #section26 >.

The Mayor and council may not have decided to sell Lot 444 through a corporation to avoid transparency, but lack of transparency is the consequence and all the more reason why the decision should have been made in a public meeting.


#14

[quote=“drummerboy”]Apparently, councillor Garon is just fine with the way Council operates, condescendingly suggesting we bumpkins just don’t understand the process and that’s “just the way democracy works.”

thenorthernview.com/news/280849202.html[/quote]

I have no problem with what she said. Sometimes we are as bad as the media in taking something someone said and spinning it into something larger than it needs to be.


#15