Terrace, B.C. city council wrong in holding meeting in private

No public debate about friendship agreement with Chinese city

TERRACE city council may be working hard to broaden the city’s economic base but it is hard to justify its decision to debate and accept in private what it is now calling a “friendly exchange agreement” with Qinhuangdao, China, the city in which is located the economic entity which now controls nearly 1,200 acres of the city’s Skeena Industrial Development Zone.

Council falls back on a section of the Community Charter by which its governed as the reason to debate and decide in private. That section allows closed sessions if there are matters “that, in the view of council, could reasonably be expected to harm the interest of the municipality if they were held in public.”

But there is nothing in the agreement which even hints at something so delicate that it needs discussing behind closed doors.

Any business dealings the city has at the industrial park which might require some confidentiality are between the development zone which controls the land and not the Qinghuangdao government.

Open debate and any resulting exchange of views and opinions is a hallmark of a western democracy. It is a principle that council had a chance to impress upon its overseas twin as to how things are done in Canada.

This may be a friendly agreement between council and its twin, but council’s secrecy is decidely unfriendly to its own citizens.

(Editorial, The Terrace Standard, Dec. 16, 2015)