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Research finds Calgary councillors increasingly in in-camera meetings

Data analyzed by the Manning Foundation shows Calgary council ranking at the top compared to other municipalities

Councillors are spending more and more time meeting in-camera.

Metro file photo

Councillors are spending more and more time meeting in-camera.

Calgary councillors are spending an increasing amount of time talking city business in private, and Manning Foundation data also shows we're leading other cities in closed-door meetings.

Since the beginning of the 2013 council session, Calgary councillors have spent around 25 per cent of their time discussing issues "in camera" in comparison with Toronto, where only 7 per cent of the meeting goes private.

"Quite often I ask why we have to go on camera on a certain issue, and I definitely think we should be in public more, for sure," said Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu. "Every time we go in camera, Councillors can't talk about my opinion, certain issues we talk about behind closed doors should be public."

Manning Foundation researcher Jeromy Farkas said the trend is concerning, especially with a mayor and council who want to be open to the public.

"It's a difficult thing to square that with the fact that they're spending more and more time in secret, really the highest amount of any major Canadian city."

Coun. Shane Keating said, although he thinks things need to change, and council should be more open about their meetings, other municipalities have different ways of conducting their time in council – like in Toronto where time is spent less in discussion and concentrates more on votes leaving chit chat in offices.

The Manning Foundation will be releasing their data in the coming weeks to update their onlline "council tracker" to include figures up until September 2015.

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