Tyson’s Thoughts is a weekly column posted online every Thursday and in print the following Wednesday in the North Island Gazette.

Tyson’s Thoughts: Where’s the agendas part 2

Can the district post different versions of their agendas online than the printed versions?

This week I made sure to pick up my official copies of Port Hardy Council’s agendas from the municipal office, because you apparently can’t trust the unofficial online versions.

What do I mean by that bold statement? Well, I noticed a disclaimer I’d never seen before posted on the town’s website, which I’ve copy and pasted for you to read below:

“This electronic rendering of the Council Agendas & Minutes for the District of Port Hardy are for informational purposes only. The original printed copies at the Municipal Hall serve as the official version. If you need a copy of an agenda which is not listed on the site, please contact the Municipal Hall at 250/949-6665 for assistance.”

So this begs the question, does that statement mean the district can post different versions of their agendas online than the official printed copies?

That’s how it reads to me, which is bizarre if you think about it. Technically speaking, the district could leave out whole chunks of their agendas online and then say something along the lines of “well, the official version is the printed one that you have to pick up at the office.”

I think there’s a real transparency issue here.

If you openly admit your digital agendas are for information only and are not the official version, you’re basically forcing taxpayers who want to stay informed to literally come to the municipal office every two weeks to pick up a copy. The agendas come out on Friday afternoon and the municipal office closes at 4:30 p.m. They are closed Saturday and Sunday and reopen Monday. So that leaves residents with Monday-Tuesday to go to the town office and pick up the official version of the agendas. Most people work until 5:00 p.m. on Monday-Tuesdays, so that doesn’t really give residents very much time, if any at all, to carefully read the documents and make up their own decisions on what’s going to be discussed.

Port McNeill Council graciously uses an email list that you can join and get your copy of the agenda emailed to you as soon as it’s been created. As far back as I can remember, the agenda has always been the same as the printed version.

When I used to cover Port Alice council meetings, Mayor Allen and her staff always made sure there was an official digital copy available for me to read/print well before Wednesday’s meeting. As far back as I can remember, the agenda was always the same as the printed version.

To be fair, I’ve never had an issue with Port Hardy’s online agendas being different than the printed version, so I’m going to guess the statement on their website is just to cover their butts in case their agendas aren’t posted online or they have last minute additions.

Makes sense, but how about instead of council simply covering for themselves in case any issues pop up, why not actively try to fix the transparency issue?

We live in a digital age now where council’s online agendas should be as official as the printed versions.

Finally, if anyone thinks I’m being too hard on Port Hardy Council about this issue, it’s not about me. I don’t own property in Port Hardy, I’m just doing my job by looking out for the residents who pay property taxes so they can be informed about what’s going on in the district and where their dollars and cents are going.

So what can we, the residents of Port Hardy, do about this issue? I’d recommend calling the district office at 250-949-6665 and make your voice heard. You can effect change in this world, and it starts with using your voice to make local government work for you and not against you.

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