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City of Nanaimo will start regularly releasing in-camera information

Councillors agree to update policy on release of in-camera documents

The City of Nanaimo will be releasing in-camera meeting minutes more frequently.

Nanaimo city councillors, during a council meeting on Monday, agreed to update their policy on releasing in-camera meeting minutes, reports and related material. The approved changes mean in-camera meeting information will be released on a monthly basis once “confidentiality obligations” are no longer applicable.

Currently, the city’s practice is to release in-camera meeting minutes on a quarterly basis. The most recent available in-camera meeting minutes are from the second and third quarters of 2017.

Information released is typically related to land transactions or appointments of committee members and other day-to-day business by the city.

However, according to a staff report, council and staff find the current process “cumbersome” because the policy requires council to approve releasing information about items related to city operations regardless of whether they know the outcome or final status of the item.

The report also notes that while it is not a provincial requirement for municipalities to release in-camera meeting information, it does support council’s strategic plan with respect to openness and transparency.

During Monday’s meeting, Sheila Gurrie, the city’s director of legislative services and city clerk, told councillors that one of the issues with the existing policy is that it lacks clarity, explaining that it makes reference to documents that can be released but doesn’t define what those documents are. She said the new policy will correct those issues and will result in information being released on a monthly basis.

“Staff will routinely review the information that can’t be released, keep going back to see when and if it can be released and updated online,” she said.

Gurrie said the changes will also mean the in-camera information won’t be posted in one large document for each quarter, but will instead be posted and organized by meeting date.

“Online, it will be an easy-to-read format,” she said.

The changes will apply to 2018 and 2019 in-camera meeting minutes, according to Gurrie.

Councillors did not discuss the topic at Monday’s meeting. 
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