No pictures, please, we're in camera

Revised artist's concept.It turns out the most interesting part of tonight's city council meeting, once the Railway Tunnel induction ceremony is done, might be the part we can't report.

A good debate on doctor recruitment funding notwithstanding, the weightiest item on tonight's agenda is the in-camera discussion on Blockhouse Square Development Ltd.'s proposed $58-million condominium and commercial project on Water Street.

The project's first stage is a four-level podium on which the remaining floors – levels five through nine – are to rest. That is to include 65 residential units; 437 parking spots and some 202 lockers; 16 commercial units; and a common area.

Once the project is done, there will be 135 parking spaces reserved for public use.

At least, there will be according to the deal the economic development and planning committee has yet to forward to the full council for a vote.

Before that, the city wants to meet with Blockhouse Square to address the committee's desire for a continuous build requirement, rather than the current phased approach, concerns about the building's appearance and other issues.

That's what tonight's in-camera talks are supposed to be about.

One hopes it's the last time these things are discussed behind closed doors.

Councillors last week voiced a strong desire to move this discussion out to the open , a movement that gained added thrust with publicly-aired concerns by the popular Brockville Farmers' Market.

Sadly, the Ontario Municipal Act is quite permissive with councils wanting to move talks behind closed doors. And this matter qualifies for in-camera treatment, as it is, in Municipal Act lingo, “a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by the municipality or local board.”

A piece of real estate as crucial as the Water Street lot, involving a project as important as the realignment of Water Street, needs to be discussed in the open. Developers clearly have their confidentiality rights, but they must also realize that, when your business partner is a civic body, the true landowner is the taxpaying public.

I'll see what I can get out of tonight. Keep an eye on