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North Cowichan approves motion requiring greater openness on letter writers to council

Kudos to North Cowichan council for unanimously approving a motion requiring that the authors of letters appearing on the consent agenda be made public.

Previously, the names of letter writers were redacted, or deleted, a policy inconsistent with other municipalities.

A staff report at the Feb. 1 council meeting offered two recommendations on revising the current policy.

Council unanimously endorsed Councillor Christopher Justice’s motion to approve the first recommendation that the Consent Agenda Policy be amended by inserting: “with the exception of author name” before “all personal information shall be redacted.”

The second staff recommendation that would have allowed authors to request to have their names redacted from the consent agenda was rejected., which requested a policy change, argued that the second recommendation would have effectively nullified the first because anyone could ask to remain anonymous.

Numerous other municipalities and regional districts canvassed from Nanaimo to Victoria have policies that require the names to be made public.

North Cowichan staff had argued that it must redact the names according to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

But North Cowichan’s municipal lawyer confirmed that council was within its rights to make the names public.

The issue dates back to the Dec. 21, 2022, council meeting and an individual’s written request that the deadline for the on-line public survey on the Municipal Forest Reserve be extended from Dec. 31 to Jan. 31.

Council approved the extension: .

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— Larry Pynn, Feb. 3, 2023


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