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LETTER: New Langford council must be more transparent about decisions

A new era has begun in Langford, one of the fastest-growing communities in the country with its share of urban and governance challenges.

Voters expressed a desire for more transparency from city hall in order to improve citizen involvement and how their community is governed. That allows the democratic process to flourish so the public can better understand and be more trustful and confident in their local government.

The closed-door approach to governing in Langford has been of concern to our organization and members for several years. It was the subject of several commentaries including ‘Why is Langford council so camera-shy?’, ’Best practices aid municipal transparency,’ and ‘Langford must abandon its closed-door approach to governing.’

As a progressive city, the renewed Langford council may want to consider a few changes to how they do business on behalf of ratepayers. It’s been said, to be more accountable a ‘city hall shouldn’t be a mystery.’

First of all, having to leave work, fight traffic, and forget about your kids, in order to make a 5:30 p.m. council meeting doesn’t make sense.

Please don’t overuse closed-door meetings. Unless there is a valid reason for doing confidential business behind closed doors it leaves the public uninformed and suspicious.

Consider using a “dashboard” which greatly simplifies finding out how your councillors voted on every motion that’s brought forward and every decision made.

Do publish annual financial disclosure statements on the city website, public documents pursuant to the BC Financial Disclosure Act, along with remuneration and expenses of council.

It’s time there was a regular newsletter, paper or electronic similar to Victoria or Saanich, in order to better inform residents of programs and policies.

While it’s encouraging that Langford finally brought in video recordings of council meetings, a basic Zoom broadcast has poor audio and picture quality and should be upgraded. Look to Sidney for an example.

We join residents in congratulating Mayor Scott Goodmanson and council on their election.

Stan Bartlett, vice-chair

Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria

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