By Mark Squibb/November 4, 2021
In an effort to increase public trust, the Town of Paradise says it will begin publishing the minutes of its committee meetings.
Councilor Larry Vaters, who brought the item forward during Tuesday’s public council meeting, noted that over the past number of years the town had implemented processes and policies to increase transparency and accountability, such as discontinuing private committee of the whole meetings and posting monthly cheque registers and completed ATIPP requests to the town’s website.
The decision to share the minutes of committee meetings will continue this trend.
“Recommendations from these committees are brought forward to the public council meeting for discussion and public approval of council,” explained Vaters. “In an effort to be even more transparent, the chair of each committee also gives a report on all items reviewed and discussed at each committee meeting, except for privileged items that require in camera discussion. The next phase in this continuous improvement is to make the minutes of these meetings available to the public.”
Vaters said staff are standardizing a format for all committees, and once that is completed, the minutes will be posted to the town’s website, effective January 20, 2022.
Councilor Patrick Martin applauded the motion, said it was a very positive step and that it would be good for residents to see the amount of discussion that happens behind-the-scenes.
Town CAO Lisa Niblock then clarified that actual discussions won’t be in the minutes.
“I want to make sure that the public is clear on that,” said Niblock. “The minutes will be done similar to the (public) meeting minutes here. The decisions will be noted in the minutes, but it won’t be in camera or a recorded meeting or verbatim or anything like that.”
Martin said he was aware of that, and maybe he had stumbled his words a little, but that it was still very positive news.
Councilor Deborah Quilty, who chairs the Infrastructure and Engineering Committee, noted that items of the last committee meeting had been itemized and would be recorded and available for the public.
Other than that hint, it was not specified whether minutes of past meetings would be retroactively published.
The town has five standing committees: Administration and Corporate Services, Planning and Protective Services, Infrastructure and Engineering, Recreation and Community Services, and Public Works.
Vaters said there were no financial implications to the decision.