New policy will release past in camera information

Council still to consider release of in camera votes

Nanaimo city council adopted a draft policy Monday that will see information from past in camera meetings released to the public.

In January, Kim Carter, provincial ombudswoman, and Bruce Clark, manager of investigations, made a presentation to council focusing on Carter’s report Open Meetings: Best Practices Guide for Local Governments, a guide to how municipal governments in B.C. can be more transparent.

City staff, under council direction from a Dec. 17 vote, prepared the policy that will see information “no longer sensitive or confidential” released to the public.

We’ll start working backward from 2012, to 2011 and then to 2010 and if council wishes to go beyond that, of course we would do so,” said Doug Holmes, assistant city manager.

In camera meetings are council discussions and votes that take place behind closed doors and often deal with sensitive or private business issues relating to land deals, legal situations or labour decisions.

While the initial draft policy only addresses the minutes of in camera meetings, it suggests council can take it further by releasing how each individual council member voted on certain issues.

The (Dec. 17) motion was specific in council release of minutes that are no longer sensitive or confidential, but in our review of the documentation and our discussion of it, we came to the conclusion council should consider all of the in camera documentation, including minutes, staff reports their information, and including voting,” said Holmes. “All of those things will be in front of council for its deliberations.”

The outcome of the policy, however, will not limit a person’s right to access records under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.