Coun. Steve Roddick in Whitehorse on Nov. 25. City council was unanimous in adopting the 2019 report at its Feb. 24 meeting, but some council members, like Roddick, believe the reports need to be easier for the public to find. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse councillor calls for easier public access to attendance, spending reports

The information could be incorporated into website redesign, Roddick suggests

Whitehorse city council has adopted its 2019 summary report detailing council attendances at its weekly meetings, spending and voting over the course of the year.

And while council was unanimous in adopting the 2019 report at its Feb. 24 meeting, some council members believe the reports need to be easier for the public to find.

“These reports are important because they transparently disclose how each member of council spends public dollars and performs their duties, at least in terms of our attendance and our voting record,” Coun. Steve Roddick said.

He argued the reports could include more information — attendance at council and senior administration roundtable meetings, for example (which would require a change to the procedures bylaw) — but still remain one of the best ways for the public to learn how council members are doing their jobs.

“So presently this info is shared once a year and recorded only in our meeting minutes and I’m just curious about what more we could do to make this information more readily available and easily accessible to the public,” Roddick said.

He pointed to Victoria’s city council meeting dashboard and Toronto’s open data portal as two options that provide easily accessible information on council voting records and attendance.

While he acknowledged Toronto and Victoria are bigger cities with more resources, he also argued there could be some simpler solutions for Whitehorse “to just put this information out there”.

He pointed out the city is currently updating its website and questioned whether it could have a section of the new website dedicated to council report cards for the past few years.

“Because right now, if it’s only in our minutes, you have to dig through, find the correct meeting minutes and find it within those minutes,” he said. “And it’s pretty hard to access readily.”

Coun. Samson Hartland also voiced his support to make the information easier to access, noting that in previous years he’s pointed to openparliament.ca as one way to publish it and make it more available to the public.

“I would certainly support something that doesn’t create any undue hardship on the city to create, but anything we can get out there is obviously all for the better,” Hartland said.

Questioned whether the city has considered other methods of making the information available, city spokesperson Myles Dolphin replied in an email, stating: “To my knowledge, no, the City hasn’t looked at other ways of making those reports available to the public. They are available on our website, of course, and typically get reported on by the media, so we know the information makes it to the public in a few different capacities.”

On attendance, the 2019 report shows Coun. Jan Stick had the highest number of absences, missing eight of the 45 weekly meetings held. Hartland was next, missing five with Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu missing three and Coun. Laura Cabott missing two. Mayor Dan Curtis as well as councillors Dan Boyd and Steve Roddick were not listed as missing any.

A number of council members have attended meetings by conference calls over the year and are marked as being present when they do so.

As far as travel spending goes, Coun. Laura Cabott had the highest amount spent in 2019 with a total of $6,001.55 for two conferences: the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Quebec City at a cost of $5,402.24 and the Association of Yukon Communities conference in Haines Junction at a cost of $599.31.

At the other end of the scale, Coun. Samson Hartland was the only member without any travel expenses.

In between were Boyd at $4,554; Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu at $3,881.13; Roddick at $3,695.74; Curtis at $1,817.60; and Stick at $400.

The 2019 summary is available here.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Whitehorse city council

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