Transparency important to city, says mayor

At the Grand Forks regular council meeting on April 28, council received for information a report on proactive transparency

At the Grand Forks regular council meeting on April 28, council received for information a report on proactive transparency from the Local Government Management Association of B.C. (LGMA). One of the chief contributors to the report was the City’s own administrative officer Doug Allin who spoke about the level of transparency among the City staff and council.”It’s a good report,” said Mayor Brian Taylor to council. “I would say at our (provincial) mayor’s meetings that we are a very transparent city. A lot of municipalities don’t have question periods. They don’t have a committee of the whole structure. They don’t have an open process where we discuss a lot of major issues in front of our public. And they don’t have a lot of people at their meetings.”Taylor said he laughed when he heard some cities didn’t even need seats in their gallery because no one came to the council meetings.In Grand Forks, the report said, the City launched a comprehensive and proactive communications campaign to share information about incorporating water meters into their community.”When you talk about transparency, it comes down to the leadership style and how they deal with difficult situations,” said Allin in the report. “Whether you deal with a conflict head on or defer it to another day, the situation will eventually come at you. For us, we wanted to release information proactively and get ahead of the issue by sharing information early in the process and well ahead of the installation of water meters.”The city delayed installation of its water meters to provide time and explain the program and why water conservation is important, continued the report.”The biggest challenge was trying to sum up 15 years of information in an open house process to help the community understand why were doing this and the work council had done of a weekly basis to reach their decision,” said Allin. “We were also very transparent about the costs involved by providing specific examples of the costs of water metering compared to flat fees.”By being consistently transparent and proactive about sharing information, the city has made significant process in building trust and focusing in on the real concerns about the water metering program, concluded the report.The report was written by Therese Mickelson, accredited business communicator (ABC), or Michelson consulting.The LGMA is a professional association for local government managers in B.C.