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Opening doors

City council wants to spend more time out in the open. With council having to meet almost weekly behind closed doors, city clerk John Hannam is looking to see if there are ways to improve that record and bring more reports to public sessions.
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City of Thunder Bay's city clerk city clerk, John Hannam, hopes to help city council hold less closed-door meetings next year. (tbnewswatch.com)

City council wants to spend more time out in the open.

With council having to meet almost weekly behind closed doors, city clerk John Hannam is looking to see if there are ways to improve that record and bring more reports to public sessions.

"So we can support public confidence and business being done in an open manner," Hannam said.

Council goes behind closed doors for property, personnel and legal matters.

While the last two aren't likely to be public, Hannam said there might be ways under the Municipal Act to make it so council won't have to go in camera on every property matter.

It might be as simple as having a confidential memo sent to council instead.

"A report of that nature might be able to go to open sessions," he said.

That wouldn't include things like property prices though as it might undermine the competitive bidding process when the city puts land up for sale Hannam said.

Mayor Keith Hobbs said he wants to see council meet behind closed doors less.

"We spend I think an inordinate amount of time in closed session however we have had a lot of legal issues," Hobbs said.

The flood of May 2012 and closing agreements on the hotel and condominium project on the waterfront were just a few reasons that this term of council have had regular closed sessions, Hobbs said.