Jan 20, 2020

Council closes door on in-private meetings investigator

  • I asked council to support researching a check/balance of power.
  • The motion failed, but by a close margin.
  • I will continue to work hard for openness and transparency at your City Hall, every chance I get.

Residents have said repeatedly: fewer closed-door meetings at City Hall.

Today, I put forward a motion that asks Administration to look at options to appoint an in-private meetings investigator or assessor, and it failed. The purpose of this role in other cities is to review when Council enters into closed-door meetings and determine whether or not this confidentiality was necessary. 

When a city appoints an investigator, their job is to find out if the reason and discussion for going in private are justified. These requests can come from citizens or council members. 

The motion did not pass by a razor sharp margin of 6-7.

In 2002 Council reviewed 89 in-private items and in 2018: 188 items

By appointing an investigating officer, we wouldn’t have been the first. Part of my motivation was to learn what we could from other cities across the country taking this action. There are other municipalities where this practice has been extremely successful. For example, every municipality in Ontario must have an in-private council meeting investigator.

Edmonton is an award-winning city in terms of open data and public engagement. I believe when you are great at something, you should strive to be even better.

Now, there are plenty of legitimate reasons why a City Council might decide to go “in camera” (another term for private, closed-door meetings) but when an opportunity arises to be more transparent, Edmontonians seem to support exploring these options.

We can’t predict the decisions of future Councils in the years to come. For me, it’s important to make sure we have checks and balances on our local government. I will continue to work hard for openness and transparency at your City Hall every chance I get.