Coun. Dan Bouman called Tuesday for the Gibsons Landing Harbour Authority (GLHA) to open its meetings to the public.
With GLHA transitioning to new federal rules for not-for-profit corporations, Bouman recommended that its board meetings follow the Community Charter’s standards for going in-camera on legal, property and personnel issues, but otherwise be open to the public.
“I would be happy to see the public take more of an interest in the business of the harbour authority,” Bouman said at the April 22 committee of the whole meeting.
Coun. Gerry Tretick said the intent of closed GLHA board meetings is not to hide anything, adding that most of the business conducted would be in-camera anyway, dealing with contracts and individuals in the harbour.
As well, Tretick said, meetings are held in a small room on the harbour that would not accommodate the public, but does allow staff to attend as needed without shutting down operations.
“If it’s going to be open to the public, they’re going to have to move their meetings elsewhere,” he said.
But Bouman said the principle of openness should be paramount.
“Inconvenience is not a good enough reason for the meetings to be closed,” he said. “The fact that meetings are open to the public is an important influence on how those meetings are conducted. It’s a feature of open government that I’d like to see maintained.”
Mayor Wayne Rowe said he tended to agree with Bouman on the principle of openness, but also supported Tretick’s request to give the GLHA board an opportunity to respond to the recommendation before proceeding.
That opportunity will come at a special GLHA member’s meeting in the council chambers on May 13, starting at 5:30 p.m.
The deadline for GLHA to transition to the new federal legislation is Oct. 17.
Corporate officer Selina Williams said the one significant change in the new bylaws is that they allow corporations to have borrowing powers, whereas before borrowing was prohibited. The GLHA board has agreed, she said, to borrow only with the Town’s permission.
GLHA is currently working to create about 100 berths off the new concrete float with financing expected from federal and provincial grants and third-party financing, Williams said.
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