Letters don’t all appear in agenda

Complaints raised about contents of Summerland council information package

When the agenda package was released for the Oct. 10 municipal council meeting, some members of the public were concerned that their letters to council members did not appear.

Grant Thompson, one of the opponents of a proposed regional compost facility for Summerland, said he and others had submitted letters to council, stating their concerns about the proposal.

“We were quite stunned that none of these letters were published with the agenda,” he said. “It feels like censorship. We don’t know what’s going on.”

But Linda Tynan, chief administrative officer for the municipality, said there is no requirement stating that all letters must be published in the council agenda package.

For some items before council, there is a requirement to include all letters. These items include development variance permits and bylaws.

But the proposed compost facility is not covered under this requirement.

Tynan said all correspondence sent to the mayor or council members is forwarded on to the members of council and is also available for the public to view, even if it is not all included in the agenda package.

“We generally do not include correspondence unless it’s included with a particular agenda item,” she said.

The compost facility will be on the council agenda later this month, but it has been tabled until after Oct. 21, so all council members will be present when the discussion takes place.

Two years earlier, council and municipal staff received complaints when letters received by council members were made public.

A letter writer at the time was shocked when his comments on an issue of the day were published in news outlets in the region.

At the time, Mayor Peter Waterman stated that letters sent to members of council should not be considered private.

Tynan said all letters sent to the mayor and council are sent to the members of council and are available to members of the public who request them.

“All letters to council are always public,” she said.

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