There was an interesting article last night and early this morning in the online edition of Northern View entitled “Watson Island pipe leaking fuel oil into ocean”, but it has since been taken off the Black Press site. What gives with that?
[Edit: Silobreaker had a link to the story and still has a couple of quotes, including that an Emergency Response Officer will be on-site < news.silobreaker.com/fuel-oil-le … 3650984001 >.]
The article said that there was a leak of Bunker 6 fuel oil and described its’ characteristics, such as that it forms tar balls in water, and cited an anonymous, “reliable” source who has knowledge of the property, as well as a City representative who did not have much time to talk. The property is apparently closed to local reporters.
Meanwhile, as noted on another thread < City council breaches closed meeting requirements >, the City council had an unexpected Special Meeting on Thursday night where they dealt with one public issue for all of 5 minutes 30 seconds, then re-convened into a closed meeting, but without stating the reason for doing so.
That the council held a Special Meeting was surprising considering that the regular meeting for the 29th was cancelled for a summer break and there was only one small item on the agenda, < northcoastreview.blogspot.ca/201 … uncil.html >.
As noted in the other thread, section 92 of the Community Charter requires that to exclude the public from a council meeting a resolution to that effect must be passed in public - which they did (at least in the video portion) - but they neglected to state “the basis under the applicable subsection of section 90 on which the meeting or part is to be closed”.
On that latter point, civic officials apparently say that prior to the brief public meeting where the video was rolling they had held another “public meeting” (the video was not on and no one from the public seems to have been present) where they passed the resolution stating the reason for closing the meeting.
However, note that the council is required to state the reason for closing “the meeting or part of the meeting”. Whether the meeting after the (second?) public meeting was a separate closed meeting or another “part” of the meeting referred to in the public notice, they still have to state the basis for excluding the public.
Also curious is that past and consistent practice has been to publish a notice of any Special Meeting where the first order of business is a resolution under the Community Charter to exclude the public. However, on this occasion they did not do that.
When Watson Island is on the closed meeting agenda the public is excluded because the subject matter relates to “the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements”.
If the subject matter of the closed meeting was a fuel leak from Watson Island, though, they really could not credibly cite that as a reason. The more appropriate authority would be to consider “litigation or potential litigation affecting the municipality”. If fuel is leaking into the ocean and into fish habitat there certainly would be potential for litigation.
So what do we make of all this?
A story is taken offline that, citing an anonymous source, says that fuel is leaking into the ocean from a municipal property. A few days prior the council unexpectedly held a Special Meeting on short notice to consider only one brief public item, then re-convened a closed meeting, apparently after holding an earlier closed meeting, but without giving the usual notice of the reason or stating the reason that the Community Charter requires even when excluding the public from “part of the meeting”.
In view of the potential seriousness of fuel leaks into the ocean, hopefully local reporters or others in the know will get to the bottom of things and fill in some details. Perhaps as well the council, which is of course thoroughly committed to transparent governance, might shed some light on these puzzling events.