EDITORIAL: Transparency a public expectation

Discontent over the lack of transparency at the City of Port Alberni city council table boiled over Monday night .

Discontent over the lack of transparency at the city council table boiled over Monday night when Port Alberni resident Roland Smith called out Mayor Mike Ruttan and city councillors for what he coined ‘the disquieting mood which has descended over city hall.’

Smith cited disappointment over the lack of answers people, including himself, have received when seeking rationale and economics over the controversial Judy Rogers management review the city undertook in 2015.

Councils have the right to carry out certain business in private, when it comes to negotiations or discussions surrounding land, labour and law. These are governed under the BC Community Charter, and the BC Ombudsperson has imparted a ‘best practices’ guide for opening meetings to assist councils in remaining accountable.

Voters democratically elected the seven representatives who make decisions on Port Alberni’s behalf, and they deserve the public’s respect and trust to make those decisions for the betterment of this community.

There is a point, however, where ‘just’ following the letter of the law leans toward lack of transparency, and that is when members of the public begin to question the number of decisions made behind closed doors. It is at this point that mistrust in leadership threatens.

Port Alberni’s city council has reached this point.

Some may say it is the vocal minority that is speaking out on this matter, and unfairly targeting a mayor and some councillors new to municipal politics despite being nearly halfway through their term. Some may also say that historically, voters who are content with the decisions a council is making never speak up.

It shouldn’t matter: discontented residents who take the time to speak out deserve to be heard.

It is time for Port Alberni city council to listen.

— ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS