Nanaimo releases documents from closed-door meetings

NANAIMO – The city is staggering the release of in camera information, beginning with documents from 2010.

The first release of in camera documents will be a “great step” toward silencing fears the city isn’t transparent, according to Nanaimo’s top bureaucrat.

The City of Nanaimo will unveil in camera documents online Dec. 20 – marking the start of a new effort to be more open and transparent about decisions made behind closed doors.

The documents will include agendas, reports, minutes and votes from in camera meetings from three years ago.

According to city officials, the move is part of new policy to stagger the release of documents backdated from 2010 to the present.

Nanaimo city officials decided last May to make public voting records and in camera information on a regular basis in an effort to diffuse negative talks of city secrecy and meet citizen calls for greater government transparency.

Not all information is expected to be released right away, including land transaction issues and third party involvements. City staff members have also made it clear they will black out parts of agendas and minutes they believe are subject to Freedom of Information requests.

“I think it’s a great step toward quelling the fear of not being transparent…not that there has been anything untoward in [the] in camera  minutes, but its a good step to showing people what has been in camera and what can now be released after it has been dealt with,” said Ted Swabey, city manager. “It will help people understand nothing unusual was talked about.”

As part of the new in camera policy, city councillors will now regularly discuss the timing of documents’ release and city staff members anticipate quarterly reviews with council to consider if items still under the curtain of in camera meetings should be brought forward.

No date is set for public release of 2011 documents. All information will be posted on the city’s website at www.nanaimo.ca.