Victoria city council to publish reason for closing meeting

Specific reasons to be listed on why meeting needs to go-incamera

No longer will a blanket reference to the city’s bylaws provide justification for closing a Victoria city council meeting to the public.

Victoria Coun. Lisa Helps asked for a change in future reporting procedures.

Currently, council meeting agendas list items for closed discussion “for the reason that (they) deal with matters specified in sections 12(3) and/or (4) of the council bylaw.”

The explanation is too broad, according to Helps.

Within section 12, there are 19 subsections which outline all the legitimate reasons to close a meeting. They range from the acquisition of land, litigation, advice subject to solicitor-client privilege, or personal information about someone being considered for hire.

Helps asked that the specific subsection be listed, to give the public a better understanding for why an item must be discussed secretly. It’s a practice already followed in many municipalities.

Rob Woodland, director of legislative and regulatory services, agreed.

“It’s not a difficult thing to do, and we’ll make sure those are published,” he said.

Did you know?

The City of Vancouver’s website routinely posts all decisions and reports originating from in-camera meetings, after the information is no longer considered sensitive.