Langford accused of secrecy after refusing to livestream its meetings, Times Colonist, Dec. 11, 2020.
CFAX Interview with Adam Stirling and Grumpy Taxpayer$ Chair John Treleaven, Should Langford livestream council meetings? Dec. 14, 2020.
Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria is calling upon the Inspector of Municipalities in B.C. to investigate Langford council and its lack of transparency and accountability to the public.
The request is prompted by Langford voting against livestreaming of council meetings or recordings to be played back at a later date. The decision – made behind closed doors on Dec. 7 – comes during a pandemic and a time when citizens have limited ways to participate or find out what council is doing.
“Democracy in Langford continues to die in darkness as a result of this decision,” says John Treleaven, chair of Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria. “A council meeting in-camera to secretly discuss the need for transparency is as bizarre as it gets.”
“This council and its decisions around managing the municipality and a $100-million budget are not receiving sufficient scrutiny and public participation. It’s of particular concern in a fast-growing, municipality with a large number of development projects where the public wants and must be heard.”
Langford remains the only major jurisdiction in the province that doesn’t do live-streaming or record proceedings for residents. It’s unacceptable given that municipal law recognizes that the principles of governance includes accountability and that’s very difficult especially during a pandemic, Treleaven says.
During the pandemic Langford council chambers are closed, but residents are able to participate in council and committee meetings via teleconference.
But an open meeting with public participation involves much more than that, and the province should provide more guidance to municipalities on that issue.
As it stands now, how do residents that can’t phone-in find out a council decision, wait a month until the minutes are tabled? When they eventually get the minutes, how do taxpayers learn about the discussion and positions of councillors? Why is council hampering public participation in council meetings by holding council meetings at 5 p.m., instead of at the convenience of its taxpayers? How do the media provide adequate scrutiny given the time constraints?
The decision not to livestream wasn’t unanimous on the seven-person council with at least two councillors, Couns. Denise Blackwell and Lillian Szpak, voting for the initiative.
Langford council warms to livestreaming its meetings, Times Colonist, Aug. 15, 2020.
It’s 2020, but not in Langford, Grumpy Taxpayer Press Release, July 30, 2020.
View Royal to join livestreamers; some councils take other routes, Times Colonist, July 5, 2020.
Office of the Inspector of Municipalities, Local Government Act (Sec. 758), 2020.
Principles of Municipal Governance, Community Charter, Government of British Columbia, 2020.
Why is Langford council so camera-shy? Times Colonist Commentary, Aug. 2019.
Available for Media Interviews:
John Treleaven, chair, Grumpy Taxpayer$
250.656.7899, cell 250.588.7899
Stan Bartlett, past-chair, Grumpy Taxpayer$