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Reports of city halls’ secret meetings posted and it’s mostly, um, not that exciting

March 2nd, 2011 · 6 Comments

Because I’m a dutiful person (that Catholic training sticks, even after all else has faded away), I briefly read through a big chunk of the city’s just-posted in-camera reports from June 2008 to May 2010 to spare all of you the pain of having to do so.

They’re being posted, by the way, as a result of an investigation into how the Olympic village documents got leaked to the media pre-2008 election and subsequent recommendations on improving practices for in-camera, i.e. not public, meetings of council. Those meetings are typically held to discuss hirings, firings, sensitive financial and real-estate issues, and the like.

I’m sure if I spent more time and had more zest for hatchet jobs, I could find something that I could make sound damning. But mostly what I found was small, interesting bits of info that only I and 53 other civic junkies in the city care about.

The really interesting stuff comes in verbal reports (September 08, city manager Judy Rogers and finance guy Ken Bayne brief council on financial matters — I’ll bet! as the Olympic village financing was starting to go down) where we get no details.

Or, in September 09, council received an administrative report on the Seafield apartments — the building whose renters the mayor championed during the election campaign and which has been the subject of numerous battles with renters disputing rent increases and evictions — that is still so sensitive it can’t be released.

Lots of discussions of the leasehold fracas in False Creek and another interesting, no-details verbal report on “legal issues” surrounding the density bank — that collection of imaginary square feet that the city allowed owners of heritage properties to own and sell off to developers wanting extra density, as a way of preserving heritage.

Otherwise, a lot of stuff about people being appointed to committees and advisory boards, some of which I didn’t even know existed.

And these fun and interesting little tidbits

– The city agreed to pay $4 million a year in October 2008  for the lease on the Crossroads building that the engineering department moved into, leaving half of city hall empty.

– It costs $60,000 to do a headhunter search for senior staff

– The city is the landlord to an awful lot of people I didn’t know about: architect Bing Thom’s business, Tremblay Motors under the Granville Bridge, Kal-Tire on Main, the House of God, and much more. But you can’t see what rent they pay. That’s blanked out.

– The city spent $670,000 to acquire land on Knight Street that would allow it to construct a left-hand-turn bay

– The prices paid for land for social housing is in here.

But please do go through yourselves and post your comments on bits that I don’t have the background to spot as signs of nefariousness. One querulous note from me: It would be good if they were in a searchable format. As it is, if you want to see if there’s a reference to a particular topic or person, you have to click on all 100-plus reports. It’s the 21st century?

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