Editorial: More Duncan council meetings a win for transparency

committee of the whole meetings are not filmed or recorded

We applaud the City of Duncan’s new council for their decision to hold more council meetings each month. They made the decision in December, and their reasoning is exactly why we approve.

It has always been a frustration that Duncan council has often not held a great deal of discussion, even on key issues, at the formal council meetings where representatives voted whether or not to pass motions — in other words, where the final decisions were made.

It’s not that council hadn’t discussed these issues, sometimes at length, but they have traditionally done so during their committee of the whole meetings rather than at the formal council meetings.

The problem with this way of doing things is that the committee of the whole meetings are not filmed or recorded, so anyone who couldn’t attend at the time had no way to hear the discussion that had taken place.

It could leave the public at sea over how a decision was made, and importantly, why the councillors voted as they did. Only when a councillor really felt they wanted the public to know why they were voting in a particular way did they get into the meat of their argument at the council table.

It’s not unusual for people to hear about an issue in which they have an interest only after at least the initial look from council has taken place. There aren’t that many people who attend council meetings, let alone committee meetings, on a regular basis. That’s why it’s so important for people to be able to educate themselves on the history of an issue.

The December decision will add one council meeting for most months of the year. The Municipality of North Cowichan already operates on such a schedule. We don’t necessarily expect that this will fill a whole bunch more seats on council nights, but we bet it will see more people viewing the recordings of council meetings afterwards.

People should know how and why decisions are made by our elected representatives. This is a win for transparency.

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