The City of Cranbrook is an honourable mention for a government secrecy award, given annually by The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) and other media partners.
Every year, the CAJ, along with News Media Canada, Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University (CFE), and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) award one local government the Code of Silence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy.
This year the group gave the award to the Town of Erin, Ontario, although Cranbrook was listed as one of five honourable mentions alongside Morinville, AB, North Bay, ON, Cornwall, ON, and Côte-Saint-Luc, QC.
The award is so as to, “call public attention to government departments and agencies that put extra effort into denying public access to government information to which the public has a right under access to information legislation.”
The awards jury from the four organizations is also anticipated to announce its Code of Silence Awards in the Federal, Provincial, and Law Enforcement categories in the upcoming weeks.
The honourable mention most likely stems from the audit completed in October 2019 by George B. Cuff & Associates Ltd. The audit recommended a number of changes to City Hall to provide clearer direction within municipal government operations, transparency, and clear communication between departments.
“There is currently a significant gap between the City’s reality and its potential,” read the report. “This governance audit has shone a light into the places where improvements need to be made. Cranbrook is fundamentally sound, but an internal, organizational culture change is needed to let the City develop its potential.”
The report includes a plethora of redacted material and a robust list of recommendations for Cranbrook City Council to change the “organizational culture” at City Hall.
In a statement responding to the report, Mayor Lee Pratt said the City was dedicated to making the required changes.
“We are committed to making those improvements for the benefit of our residents, the business community along with potential developers and investors,” said Pratt. “George and his team brought over 40 years of municipal governance and best practices expertise to the table during this process and we believe implementing his recommendations will be of value in taking the right steps forward.”
MyEastKootenayNow.com attempted to reach out to Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt and the City of Cranbrook for an official comment on the honourable mention but did not receive a response back as of press time.
More: Government Audit Makes Recommendations to Improve City of Cranbrook (February 18, 2020)