IN-CAMERA REDUX

Ron Bolin: June 23, 2017

 

At the Council meeting of June 19, 2017, Item 9-b on the agenda was as follows:


1411 White Street – Property Disposition 177 – 181 To be introduced by Dale Lindsay, Director of Community Development. Purpose:  To obtain Council approval for the sale of City-owned property located at 1411 White Street. Recommendation:  That Council:

  1. approve to dispose of City- owned  property located at 1411 White Street to Cori Creba for the sum of $240,000; and,
  2. direct the Mayor and Corporate Officer to execute the necessary documents to effect the transaction.

 

A question to the City regarding this transaction elicited a response which contained the following:

  1. The Section from the Community Charter shown below which outlines the process for the disposal of municipal Property
  2. an attachment showing the ad which had been placed as required by the CC.

 

BC Community Charter

Division 3 — Municipal Property

Notice of proposed property disposition

26  (1) Before a council disposes of land or improvements, it must publish notice of the proposed disposition in accordance with section 94 [public notice].

(2) In the case of property that is available to the public for acquisition, notice under this section must include the following:

(a) a description of the land or improvements;

(b) the nature and, if applicable, the term of the proposed disposition;

(c) the process by which the land or improvements may be acquired.

(3) In the case of property that is not available to the public for acquisition, notice under this section must include the following:

(a) a description of the land or improvements;

(b) the person or public authority who is to acquire the property under the proposed disposition;

(c) the nature and, if applicable, the term of the proposed disposition;

(d) the consideration to be received by the municipality for the disposition.


 

And the Notice required by 26(3): Nanaimo News Bulletin: June 8, 2017, reads:

Notice of Intention to Dispose of Real Property

Public Notice is hereby given pursuant to Section 26 of the Community Charter that the City of Nanaimo intends to sell a fee simple property located at 1411 White Street, Nanaimo, BC and legally described as Lot 14, Suburban Lot 10, Newcastle Reserve, Section 1, Nanaimo District, Plan 9082d, PID 001-677-632 to Cori Creba for the sum of $240,000.

Further Information may be obtained by contacting Real Estate Section, Community Development Department Telephone: 25—755-4476 File ; LD 003110

A location map of the property was included. (My apology for any transcription errors)


 

At the Council meeting of June 19, 2017, I asked during question period why in the public notice, as a matter of public policy and procedure, Section 26(3) had been used which limited public bidding on the property rather than Section 26(2) which would have mandated an open public process.  In the response which can be seen on the video of the meeting it was stated that the decision was made in an IN-CAMERA meeting.

This is another example, in my opinion, of the abuse of the IN-CAMERA process.  The property under discussion is one that is over 1/3 of an acre and has a house on it which is habitable.  How these conditions lead to the private sale of a home remains a mystery to me.  If it is for sale with a home on it, then the sale should be open under Section 26(2).  The question remains: How does such a decision come to be made IN-CAMERA.  Caesar’s wife must not only BE above suspicion, she must be SEEN TO BE above suspicion.  IN-CAMERA decisions ensure that one is left wondering why many important public decisions are made in a closed back room.

It is time to examine the shortcomings found in the Community Charter by which such back room decisions are made and, at least in my opinion, often abused, and to lobby our new Provincial government to open the Charter for revisions, particularly in the area of IN-CAMERA meetings which affect public policy and finance.

NOTE: The final decision of Council on the matter was that it not be sold but be retained by the City as a public asset, a decision which, in my opinion, was the correct one under the circumstances.  My concern is not with the final decision in the matter, but with the manner in which the recommendation was derived. Nor is my concern with the Staff members involved, but again with the arbitrary nature of Section 90(a) in defining IN-CAMERA meetings.

END

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