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Brampton council moves to record closed meetings
May 20, 2015
By Peter Criscione

Brampton councillors voted unanimously on a motion Wednesday to have all closed municipal meetings electronically recorded and kept on file.

“During the election I talked about raising the bar for Brampton. I want us to be a leader,” said Mayor Linda Jeffrey, who tabled the motion, which passed without discussion.

Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin, who has repeatedly called on municipalities to electronically record in-camera meetings, inspired council’s move.

Legislation limits circumstances where city council and committees can meet behind closed doors - usually property deals or personnel matters.

Some have argued electronic records are a better alternative to written minutes taken at closed meetings. Investigations into potential violations of the Municipal Act would cost less and take less time with digital records.

“There are very few communities that provide that level of transparency,” said Jeffrey.

As a result of Wednesday’s vote, the City Clerk will report to council on the implementation of closed session records.

City Council held a total of 90 meetings behind closed doors between 2008 and 2014, according to information obtained by The Guardian. Committee of Council met in camera on 33 occasions during that same time period.

Jeffrey made the pitch for recorded meetings in the interest of keeping better records.

The mayor has made several strides on the transparency front since taking office last year including introducing a gift and lobbyist registry. She also slashed her own salary by more than $50,000.

Jeffrey proposed keeping digital records of in camera meetings during a heated public meeting earlier this month on the results of an investigation into the Southwest Quadrant renewal plan.

Critics have consistently blasted city officials for using a highly secretive tender process in awarding the winning bid.