Open and Transparent – Yes!

Normally, I do not respond to Letters of the Editor as generally misinformation and misunderstanding of the issues could be cleared up with a simple telephone call or email to myself, other council members or staff.  However, I am, in this particular case, bending from my personal policy as a letter to the editor in the November 15th edition of the  EMC  is replete with distortions about what constitutes openness and transparency in municipal government. These issues are very clearly spelled out in the Municipal Act, Sections 223.1 – 223.24 and 239; the Municipal Act is available online through the Ontario Government website.  Openness and transparency mean holding meetings, other than those that are legally sanctioned to be held in camera, in a manner that the public can hear and see the discussions and decisions.  The terms do not in any manner suggest that the public is to participate in discussions on issues, except in the case of Public Meetings, laid down under The Planning Act, such as the two dealing recently with the Laura Street Development held in the Town Hall Auditorium after being duly advertised. Carleton Place Council regularly recognizes the members of public who sit in the gallery and wish to weigh in on issues. This is in no way mandated and is simply a courtesy that we have chosen to offer to the public.  I can assure you that most municipalities do not accord the public the same privileges. Because Council regularly gives members of the public opportunities to speak, I am quite perplexed to understand from what direction the Letter to the Editor is coming.