Private meetings that disallow landowners from attending have caused a stir within the Union Bay Improvement District.
UBID trustee Susanna Kaljur is calling out four of her counterparts for holding “executive meetings” to discuss Union Bay-related business. Members of the public are not allowed to attend them.
Such a meeting was held at the UBID offices on April 9 for the five board members and chief administrative officer to discuss the 2017 financial audit.
The meeting was not listed on UBID’s website beforehand and there is no reference to executive meetings in the improvement district’s bylaws. It is unclear how many executive meetings have taken place.
A handful of Union Bay residents showed up to the meeting on Monday but were barred from entry at the door. One of the residents filmed the encounter and sent the footage to The Record.
In the video, UBID board chair Peter Jacques can be seen at the door, telling the residents the meeting is private and they need to leave.
“It’s an executive meeting and what we discuss here will be brought forward,” he tells the residents.
Once the door was closed, Kaljur recorded a 10-minute argument that ensued among the board members before the meeting began.
She later emailed the audio file to The Record, stating she is filing a formal complaint against Jacques, CAO Gord Mason, and trustees Glenn Loxam and Rick Bitten, over the issue.
In the audio file, Kaljur argues with the rest of the board over the legality of holding executive meetings. She brings up how in-camera sessions — meetings in which the public cannot attend — should only be held to discuss three topics.
“This is an illegal meeting. This is unbelievable,” said Kaljur on the recording. “The meetings can only be closed to the public, as you know, for very specific reasons — legal issues, land acquisitions, and personnel issues.”
Jacques replied that the executive meetings are a more efficient way for the improvement district to conduct business without heckling from the gallery.
“We can’t get anything done at a public meeting,” he said. “The reason why we’re having executive meetings is that we don’t have to go in-camera necessarily for the information that is discussed at an executive meeting, although we may be able to do so.”
On the audio file, Mason says to Kaljur that he had spoken with Simon Rasmussen, a program analyst with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and was told the meetings are legitimate.
“They didn’t say we couldn’t have the meeting,” he told Kaljur on the recording. “They said we can close the meeting to discuss these things because what’s going on in our area.
“We can’t have a meeting to discuss things without… people screaming at each other.”
UBID will hold its public AGM at the Union Bay Community Hall on April 19. The meeting is open to the public and will start at 7 p.m.