Ferry authority stopped tracking meeting times

After the NDP raised questions last year about the short meeting times for the B.C. Ferries Authority board of directors, the board just stopped counting.

Last May, NDP ferries critic Gary Coons, who won re-election last week to represent North Coast, asked questions in the legislature citing examples such as a five-minute meeting and one 20-minute conference call which earned board members $750 each.

Minutes for the BCFA’s board meetings, examined this week by The Tyee after a request to see them before the May 12 election was refused, show the board stopped recording the end times for its meetings last spring.

Minutes for the April 25, 2008 meeting are the last to state start and end times.

B.C. law says the BCFA’s records must be available to the public during regular business hours. Asked why The Tyee was refused access to the minutes five days before the election, B.C. Ferries’ Vice-President of Public Affairs Mark Stefanson said, “I think it [was] because we’re not usually asked for them.”

Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon, re-elected in Surrey-Cloverdale, justified short meetings to both The Tyee last week and in the legislature a year ago by saying board members sit on both the BCFA and the B.C. Ferry Services Inc. boards of directors.

Falcon said the BCFA meetings set “strategic direction,” while the nuts and bolts of B.C. Ferries operation discussed at the company’s meetings takes the better part of a day.

The government created the Authority in 2003 when it converted B.C. Ferries from a crown corporation to a private, government-owned company. The company itself is not required to release information and is exempt from freedom of information laws.

See the original at: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/BC-Politics/2009/05/20/FerryStopped

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