Sparks fly at closed-door CBRM meeting over potential container terminal
Published Tuesday, December 12, 2017 9:09PM AST
Just minutes into a closed door meeting between Cape Breton Regional Municipality councillors, the mayor and four elected officials got up and left, saying they were unhappy with what was being discussed in council chambers.
“I didn't feel comfortable in the meeting in accordance with the MGA,” says councillor Kendra Coombs, who left the meeting. “What was being discussed, I feel didn't fall under it.”
Mayor Cecil Clarke along with chiefs from Membertou and Eskasoni recently return from a trip to China related to port development. A closed-door meeting was held Monday to discuss it.
Councillors say they feel information in the meeting should be public knowledge.
“I didn't not feel that, in my opinion and how I interpret the MGA, that that particular subject would be covered under an in-camera,” says councillor Earlene MacMullin.
Councillor Amanda McDougall spoke out about the lack of information surrounding the port file on CTV News Saturday, and about the common theme of closed-door meetings in the CBRM.
Hours after the story aired, McDougall says she found herself in hot water with the mayor's office, but is not sure why.
“I feel the same way and spent a great deal of time going over the Municipal Governance Act and actually consulting with legal counsel outside of the municipality to make sure because I was uneasy with my interview after receiving some communication back and forth from my fellow colleagues,” says McDougall.
Clarke says in-camera meetings are essential when conducting business, and says it's a practice that happens frequently in other municipalities as well.
“We're no different when it affects the port or other business considerations, so it is a normal course of business and a requirement of municipalities to function appropriately,” Clarke says.
It’s not clear exactly what McDougall said that has her in hot water. A public council session Tuesday night is expected to address the issue.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore.