Thursday, August 30, 2018

Councillor Cunningham draws attention to missed opportunities on transparency for Council members

Some missed opportunities for transparency on City Council were the theme
For Councillor Barry Cunningham on August 20th

Despite a vow to provide for more transparency on City council from six months ago, Councillor Barry Cunningham provided a report card of sorts for council at the August 20th council session, suggesting that Council has missed the ball on their goal for 2018.

The Councillor called attention to a resolution from Council's February 26th session which had outlined the desire to implement an invitation schedule at Committee of the Whole meetings, for progress reports from local organizations and services.

"Councillor Mirau and I drafted this up together, we had some discussions about it and that, I think that it speaks for itself. The resolution is to bring funded societies, or organizations that we fund to Committee of the Whole to open it up for discussion. And I think it is something we should be doing so we can give transparency to the community. And let the community know what exactly is going on with these, I think it's a good start towards going down that road." -- Councillor Barry Cunningham in February of 2018 seeking more transparency for council sessions

At the time Council had developed plans for an invitation schedule for such groups and services as the Library, Airport, Lester Centre, RCMP, Fire Hall, Museum, Tourism Prince Rupert and Golf Course.

March 1, 2018 -- Council set to enhance role of Committee of the Whole Session with community group updates

Mr. Cunningham noted that it was now six months later and not one of the groups he listed had yet to appear. Observing that council introduced that plan to enhance on its goal of transparency for the public, he added that since there were now no more COW sessions planned prior to the October election, it was his hope that the next Council would embrace that goal of more transparency.

"I think it's part of this transparency that were trying to get out there, that is why I brought that resolution forward, and I just noticed, I was just going through some old notes, that in the last six months we haven't had one group, except for one that was specifically invited to come before council. I hope during the next council, as I don't think that we have any more COW's, that this resolution is respected and followed through" -- Councillor Cunningham, speaking on August 20th on a lack of follow up on council plans on transparency for 2018

For his part, Mayor Brain observed how he didn't know how that maybe fell off the radar, but that he would look into the issue further.

The themes of Transparency and accountability are often frequent campaign focus points as election years move towards voting day and as the Councillor noted in his short overview, they have been a council benchmark that has been missed more often than it has been delivered on during this four year term.

In the case of using the Committee of the Whole process to provide for more access for residents to Council proceedings, the past year has seen City Council explore a number of concepts for how they had hoped to see that process evolve over the last few years.

March 22, 2017 -- Agenda oversight? Public comment opportunity excluded at Council for second time in three months
May 26, 2017 -- Councillor Cunningham reinforces his desire for more information sharing with the public
September 7, 2017 -- Council cancels Committee of the Whole (and its public comment session) for September 11th Council Session
September 15, 2017 -- City Council is sliding backwards when it comes to civic engagement
October 19, 2017  -- Council to explore new areas for community involvement in Council Sessions
November 17, 2017 -- Council to hold to current process for Committee of the Whole; explore other engagement options as well
November 24, 2017 -- Prince Rupert City Council cancels final public session for November; third cancellation of a scheduled meeting for 2017

As 2017 came to an end, Council seemed to have settled on the status quo for the rest of the year and 2018, though not quite as effectively it would seem, as Councillor Cunningham might have hoped to see.

How the topic evolves into the soon to be launched 2018 election campaign may make for one of the more expansive talking points for those seeking to take their seats at City Hall following the October 20th vote.

The introduction of the theme to the August 20th Council session can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive starting at the fifty six minute mark.

For more items of interest from this months Council meeting see our Council Timeline feature, as well as our archive of notes from the August 20th session.

A larger review of Council Discussion topics can be found on our Council Discussion archive here.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

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