Open up the doors, council

I admit, I’m not sure how to feel about news the City of Prince Rupert will be providing funding for a performance by the Snowbirds after all.

On one hand it’s great to hear that the committee ­— and full disclosure, I was a member of the Snowbirds committee last year — will be getting some help from the City. The opportunity to have a Snowbirds performance is one that doesn’t come around very often, and given the excitement that was generated during the last visit by the group, it’s something that people in Prince Rupert and the northwest as a whole will be looking forward to.

But what rubs me the wrong way is how the funding came to be.

In a public meeting, broadcast to the community and the world, the City of Prince Rupert said it didn’t have the money and couldn’t justify such an expense given other priorities for the City. During an in-camera meeting, open only to members of council and free of scrutiny from the public, members of council decided they could give the group $7,000 after all.

Why did council change their minds? What was the discussion that took place? Why could $7,000 be found now, but not during the initial meeting?

We may never know due to the rules of the Community Charter. The only problem is, I don’t see how a discussion about funding a community event falls under any of the criteria outlined in the Community Charter.

Under the Community Charter, closed meetings are designed to deal with a person who is being considered for or holds a position with the municipality, labour relations, acquisition or disposition of land, legal situations and municipal objectives. Where in there is approving $7,000 for an event that was previously turned down?

If the City can’t tell us why they changed their mind about something as simple as providing funds for the Snowbirds when the request was shot down before, it really makes one question what else is being decided behind closed doors and free of any scrutiny.

I’ve said before that council needs to be more open with the electorate, and this is just another example of that. Making decisions behind closed doors that could and should be made in the open will not win you the confidence of the people.

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