The Culture of Secrecy in the City of North Van

Comment by Voices:  This article in the Vancouver Sun today by Jeff Lee should be a wake-up call for the City of North Van.   Council meeting watchers increasingly comment on the sometimes seemingly rehearsed procedures during a meeting.    

We have queried the need for some items to be held in a closed session, most recently  that our Sister City agreement with Huizhou was renewed for five years at last week’s meeting.    The section of the community charter quoted was 90 (2)(b):  (b) the consideration of information received and held in confidence relating to negotiations between the municipality and a provincial    government or the federal government or both, or between a provincial government or the federal government or both and a third party.

 There does not seem to be any negotiation, or any involvement by these levels of government – so why the secrecy?

Some may recall the $50,000 trip to this City in China taken in 2009 by some members of Council and Mr. Tollstam.  

The motion was not supported by Councillors Bell and Clark,  Coun. Clark responded to us that he did not see any benefit to this twinning, and we received this from Coun. Bell:  ‘The original Sister City in China mandate listed several criteria objectives, the only one of which I can see that was met related to cultural exchanges.  I believe that ‘Sister City’ agreements in future should be able to demonstrate economic benefits and opportunities to both of the two parties, including the businesses in those communities. I am not aware of any such benefits that have occurred so far with our Sister City in China, nor do I foresee the likelihood of this happening in the near future.

I am prepared to make an exception and continue the long-standing Sister City relationship with Chiba City in Japan because of the history associated with it and the good relations that have occurred over the years’ .  

Here’s the article:

The Vision Vancouver majority on council may be violating the province’s open meeting laws by conducting caucus meetings before their regularly-scheduled council sessions, a veteran lawyer familiar with municipal law said Tuesday. Raymond Young said councillors cannot meet together when they have a quorum without holding those meetings in public or under rules that limit in camera closed-door meetings to a narrow list of legitimately confidential issues.

Source: Councillors who meet privately likely breaking the rules, says lawyer

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