Re. “Zarrillo says she’ll talk to lawyer about council feedback on Facebook comment (The Tri-City News, Jan. 24) and “Ctte. member defends its format, value to city” (The Tri-City News, Jan. 26).
Unlike Mayor Richard Stewart, I can understand Coun. Bonita Zarrillo’s concern over the apparent secrecy surrounding Coquitlam’s Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SAIP).
SAIP is a council committee. Under the Community Charter, committee meetings as a general rule should be public.
The Community Charter defines a fairly narrow range of circumstances when a committee meeting maybe closed to the public but, in those circumstances, prior to conducting a closed meeting council must state by resolution passed in a public meeting the fact that the meeting will be closed and the justification under the charter for the closure.
A search of the Coquitlam council minutes will confirm that this has never been done for the SIAP nor has council publicly received any minutes from the SIAP.
I can find nothing in the charter giving government the ability to bar a councillor from a committee meeting, whether it’s public or not. In fact, the charter states that participation in committee meetings is one of a councillor’s responsibilities.
Coun. Zarrillo’s concern is valid. Closed meetings where development industry insiders can influence select city politicians and staff on policy cannot be legitimized by attempting to masquerade them as committee meetings.
Mike Carver, Coquitlam