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Marystown council makes moves to ensure openness and transparency

Sam Synard
Marystown Mayor Sam Synard. - SaltWire Network file photo

MARYSTOWN, NL – Marystown council has taken steps to affirm the municipality is open and transparent with residents.

At council’s regular meeting Tuesday, two recommendations were brought forward as motions by protection to persons and property committee chair Coun. Nora Tremblett and passed unanimously.

One of them called for the adoption of a policy of the provincial Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner allowing “the public to be entitled to every piece of information that exists within the municipal government, unless it is specifically exempt” in the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy (ATIPP) Act.

A further committee recommendation, as per the Municipalities Act, was passed identifying the documents that are available for public inspection during the town’s normal business hours.

They include adopted council minutes, assessment rolls, regulations, municipal plans, old public tenders, financial statements, audited reports, adopted budgets, contracts, orders, permits, and all other documents tabled or adopted at a public meeting.

“I think it’s wonderful taking this stand, and I think we should strive to be the most open and transparent council in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Mayor Sam Synard said.

“It’s really refreshing that council so readily saw the need to be really open and transparent.”

Openness and transparency was an issue with the previous Marystown council, at least from Synard’s perspective. He noted he was forced to file ATIPP requests a number of times to get town information he said should have been readily available to him, calling it “embarrassing” to have to do so.

“It’s quite a different approach from the mayor not being able to see an invoice, to council now unanimously saying everybody can see invoices, not just the council and mayor,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Gary Myles acknowledged Erin Drover, a senior privacy analyst with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Office, was in Marystown on Monday and Tuesday of this week educating council members and staff on the ins and outs of ATIPP legislation.

“We can only do a good job on these issues if we’re in service ourselves and if we’re trained ourselves,” Synard said.

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