City of Nanaimo’s council chambers, the Shaw Auditorium at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. (News Bulletin file photo)

City of Nanaimo looking into making council’s voting records more accessible

Coun. Sheryl Armstrong says a lot of citizens have asked for additional transparency measure

Nanaimo city council members are willing to stand by their voting records.

Councillors, at a meeting last Monday, voted unanimously to ask staff to report on ways to make voting records more easily accessible to citizens.

Council’s votes are already on the public record in the form of meeting minutes and on recordings of certain meetings, but Coun. Sheryl Armstrong’s motion last week asked for an all-in-one-place listing of votes.

“It’s a lot easier format for people to see,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be something fancy, it could be as simple as [a spreadsheet], but I’ll wait for the report. I just think it’s something a lot of our citizens have been asking for.”

Coun. Don Bonner wondered if the staff report was necessary, but signalled he was in favour of the intent of the motion.

“During my tenure as a council critic, this would have come in quite handy,” he said.

Coun. Ian Thorpe said he wasn’t convinced that a lot of people were asking for that sort of information from the city or that it would be very useful over the long term. He said he’s always willing to explain to citizens why he voted ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on any topic.

“To me what is more important is that councillors vote with a reason behind their vote or some consideration that they can indicate that they have given to the question at hand,” Thorpe said.

City clerk and director of legislative services Sheila Gurrie said staff would be able to come back to council with options for tracking votes, from a basic spreadsheet to more dedicated software.

“The more transparent we can be, the better,” said Coun. Zeni Maartman.

READ ALSO: City of Nanaimo reports on its salaries, expenses and payments

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