Carleton Place council clarifies closed meetings protocol, cell phone usage

Posted on: March 15, 2017

Matthew Behrens

A year after Carleton Place Town Council discussed limiting in camera meetings to twice a month, councillors revisited the issue on March 14 to formalize that commitment.

Historically, in camera meetings have been held during gatherings of the policy review committee (the only body that meets twice a month), but Councillor Theresa Fritz said “it seems like we’re going in camera every week. It’s not that we’re doing anything that we shouldn’t while in camera, but frequency is an issue,” especially with the introduction of non-urgent matters.

More items from the March 14 meeting
Carleton Place council seeks to hold the line on wage settlements 

“We’re looking for consistency to streamline the process,” Fritz added, noting “it’s not about doing less business, but doing it more efficiently.” Council subsequently voted to limit in camera meetings to biweekly sessions, unless an urgent, time-sensitive matter arises.

On a related motion, councillors also voted to ban their own electronic devices from public and in camera meetings. “We live in a digital age, we are all guilty of looking at our phones during meetings, and it felt like it was becoming a bit of a distraction,” said Fritz, who noted the ban will not apply to town staff or members of the public.

“At first it will feel a bit difficult for people to part with their phone but once you get used to it, you can just focus,” said Fritz, “and for the two or two-and-a-half hours that we’re there, our job is to do work on behalf of the municipality. If something major happens in the community, the Chief Administrative Officer will hear about it and can let us know.”