A bid for information
|Authority||Capital Regional District|
Kyle was concerned about the closure of a ‘special meeting’ by the Capital Regional District (CRD) regarding a bid to host the 2020 Commonwealth Games. Kyle felt strongly that the topic should be debated and decided in an open meeting given the potential cost of submitting a bid to host the games. He also thought the ‘special meeting’ agenda posted on the CRD’s website did not adequately outline the matter nor did it include a record of the debate which led to the meeting being closed. Immediately after the meeting, the CRD issued a press release but Kyle felt it too lacked detail about the debate vote. He believed the process followed contravened the principles in the Community Charter.
Trying to get some answers, Kyle wrote to the CRD but his request was denied and he was informed that legislation required that closed meeting minutes be confidential.
Unsatisfied, Kyle reached out to us.
We investigated the procedure followed to close the meeting. The CRD indicated their practice was to circulate an agenda in advance to allow directors to review a meeting’s topics. During the open portion of the meeting, the relevant sections in the Community Charter were cited and a motion was passed to close the meeting. The closed meeting agenda was then reviewed and passed, by motion, by the Board. The Procedures Bylaw authorized the Board to consider a resolution to share the minutes; however, their practice was to share decisions via a press release issued as soon as possible after the meeting ended.
Our Office’s 2014 guide Open Meetings Best Practices Guide for Local Governments as well as recommendations from the province and other experts, highlight that local governments should give as much detail as possible to outline why a meeting is closed. In order to demonstrate transparency, it is also recommended that closed meeting minutes be as detailed as open meeting minutes.
We asked the CRD to release accurate meeting minutes with more detail than in the press release, acknowledging that some of the information should remain confidential. We also asked the CRD to commit to specifying in notices, agendas, and minutes which agenda items are being closed and under which sub-section of the Community Charter; to confirm changes to procedures regarding the review and release of closed meeting minutes; and to pass two resolutions when considering going in camera – to qualify the agenda item and to close the meeting. The CRD agreed to all our recommendations.