Council Candidates on Transparency at City Hall
Transparency. Transparency is a word that gets thrown around during every election, so nobody should be surprised that the upcoming municipal by-election to elect Moose Jaw's sixth City Councillor is no different.
People want to know what their government is doing. People want to know where their tax money is going. People want a government that prides itself on openness and honesty. A government that isn't hiding things from them. People want communication and accountability.
People want transparency. That's all there is to it. And many are convinced that Council and City Hall are shrouded in secrecy. We asked the four nominees for running in the by-election if they share those concerns, and what, if anything, they would do to address them.
Steven White, who has worked in financial services for the past 25 years, agrees that transparency is a problem at City Hall. He cited the recent passage of the parking meter bylaw and the garbage removal issue as "prime examples".
"In both instances" he said, "the residents of Moose Jaw were kept in the dark on certain features; not being told about the disabled and veteran parking clauses; and it is their right to know."
"City Hall is in place for the citizens, not the other way around" he added. "We elect officials to put OUR best interests forward, not passing resolutions with 85% of people being polled against something. It is our job to communicate with the local businesses and the people of this community and get their feedback before we do ANYTHING."
Mike Bachiu, the Program Co-ordinator at Moose Jaw Families for Change, was a little more sympathetic of council members.
"While everybody would of course like to know what the City is doing at all times, the reality is that when there are personnel issues, or potential land or business deals, information can’t be shared for obvious reasons" he said.
Furthermore, Bachiu stated: "while personnel issues aren’t always a sign that all is well, I’m optimistic about meetings when potential new businesses coming to town are being discussed."
Heather Eby, a registered massage therapist who previously spent seven years as a City Councillor, mentioned In-Camera meetings, "or as some people like to call them, 'secret meetings'" she said.
"They can only happen if they meet the criteria for such" she said, adding that "it does seem that there have been a lot of in-camera meetings already this term, but I trust that Council and Administration are following the policies in place for calling them. Without knowing the details of such meetings it is impossible to say they were not warranted."
Doug Blanc, who spent four years as the President of the Saskatchewan Government Employees Union (SGEU), said that "some feel that everything should be open for the public to review" but admitted that the current City Council "may be operating more behind closed doors then they should."
"However," he added, "there are always issues that require confidentiality. These include business dealings or personal issues; if possible all issues should be presented to the public as soon as possible. We need to communicate the dealing of City Council and City with more openness, while keeping sensitive issues from becoming public."
The date for voting in the municipal by-election is October 17th. All the information you need to know about voting in the on the City's website. Who is running? For what positions? Where and when to vote and whether or not you are eligible? Advanced polls? Necessary identification? It's all at: