UPDATE June 22: The police board will debate a change in policy at the next meeting, June 27th, where it would begin publishing the date/time, agenda and minutes of sub-committee meetings. See "Board Committees Report" agenda item.
Local media have been reporting on the level of secrecy at the Ottawa Police Board (CBC, Ottawa Citizen editorial, Ottawa Citizen article). In a nutshell, holding the Board's committee meetings behind closed doors isn't great.
The public is given ample opportunity to participate in the city's committee meetings. We should have the same right of access to the police board's committee meetings.
How can we achieve that? How can a member of the public keep the heat on? Media stories might be enough to get the police board to act. But what if they aren't?
Well, heads up local activists!
Check out this recent improvement to the Ottawa Police Board's procedure by-law (emphasis mine).
Delegations wishing to address the Board regarding an item not on the agenda will only be heard at regular meetings, provided that the person(s) requesting a delegation has provided written notice of their request to the Board’s Executive Director at least five (5) working days before the date of the Board meeting; the matter is within the jurisdiction of the Board; and the request has been approved by the Board Chair. The request shall include the subject matter and a list of person(s) who will be appearing before the Board and a copy of the materials that will be presented. The Chair will advise all Board members should a request to speak be declined and the rationale for declining the request.
Upon approval of the request by the Board Chair, the delegation shall be listed on the next appropriate meeting agenda.
If you have a particular passion for knowing what's going on with your city's police service and are not satisfied with how quickly the Board is moving to open their committee meetings, you can contact the Board's Executive Director, who at the time of writing is currently Wendy Fedec.
Perhaps you could ask for an agenda item to be added to the next Police Board meeting. Perhaps that agenda item would involve asking questions about when the meetings will be open, or itemize how your ability to keep an eye on your government is impacted by the committee meetings being hidden from view?
I recently confirmed with Ms. Fedec that she is the correct contact point. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
ME: Can you confirm that you are the correct person to whom I should submit an agenda item for inclusion on an upcoming Board agenda? (As per amended procedure by-law http://app05.ottawa.ca/sirepub/view.aspx?cabinet=published_meetings&fileid=351738). If so, if there are particular requirements for submissions that I should conform to, please let me know.
FEDEC: Yes, you can submit a request to speak to the board at a future meeting; your request must be submitted at least one week before the meeting, be within the jurisdiction of the board, and be approved by the Board Chair. You will have five minutes for your presentation. We request that you submit your presentation or an outline of what you will speak about at least one week before the meeting. I hope that answers all your questions.
This is something that anyone in Ottawa could do.
I like that the Police Board has this provision in their procedure by-law.
Now we just need a resident of Ottawa to step up and force the issue to be debated by the Board itself. In public.
Is that person you?