Council goes dark in return – Metro US

Council goes dark in return

Summer vacation is over for city councillors.

Mayor Peter Kelly and the municipality’s 23 other elected representatives are scheduled to be back at council table today, starting this morning with what’s known as an “in-camera session.”

In other words, Halifax Regional Council will discuss several matters behind closed doors starting at 10:30 a.m., with neither the media nor the public allowed to attend. The open portion of council’s first meeting since Aug. 11 starts at 1:30 p.m. today, with an evening session set for 6 p.m.

But before opening chambers to the public, councillors will debate a handful of hot topics privately, including the new World Trade and Convention Centre proposed for downtown Halifax. A couple of “confidential information items” citing “legal matters” are also included on today’s agenda.

Coun. Gloria McCluskey, who represents Dartmouth Centre, said yesterday she doesn’t think all items deemed to be in-camera should be debated in secret, including the appointment of citizens and councillors to boards and committees, to be discussed today.

“What’s so secretive about it?” she asked. “You apply to get on a board, you don’t get on; somebody else gets on.”

Kelly said yesterday council must legally go in-camera when it comes to “land, legal and personnel issues.”

Councillors also have the option of voting to have certain issues taken off the in-camera list, Kelly said, adding matters often “come out quickly” anyway.

“We’ve had a lot of reasons to go in-camera,” McCluskey said of council lately, adding she’s fine with the city’s failed sewage treatment plant being discussed behind closed doors since that’s what has been advised. “If the solicitor tells us that we could get in trouble by talking about this in public, then I think we should listen to the solicitor.”

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