Red Deer city council (Advocate file photo).

Red Deer city council could provide more clarity around closed-door meetings, says review

Confidential matters were found to be handled appropriately by city

The City of Red Deer could provide more clarity when handling confidential matters, an internal review has found.

With a change in municipal legislation, a review was done by staff of how the city handles in-camera meetings, or ones that are not open to the public.

While reasons for the city’s closed-door meetings were found to be valid and in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, analysis found there were still some opportunities for improvement:

* City council could provide more enhanced descriptions of the items being discussed, without revealing confidential matters.

* These general descriptions, as well as a list of which people were in attendance at the closed meeting, could be included when in-camera meetings are recorded on council minutes.

* Council could also provide a supporting public report, where possible.

Mayor Tara Veer said the city doesn’t “definitively” receive many public complaints about closed meetings. But she added that she still welcomes any changes that will make city business more transparent without jeopardizing privacy rights.

Under the Municipal Government Act, councils must conduct all meetings in public unless matters fall within one of the exceptions outlined by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

These are personnel matters, disclosures harmful to intergovernmental relations or the “economic and other interests of a public body,” advice from officials, privileged information (legal advice), or disclosures harmful to the business interest of a third party.

Veer is pleased that the review found that all items that the city discussed in camera were appropriate.

She noted most of these matters eventually make their way to public meetings for resolution, once the private aspects are dealt with behind closed doors.

City manager Craig Curtis confirmed that the changes that allow for more clarity in how in-camera meetings are identified on council agendas and recorded will be implemented by staff.

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