C-Tran meetings go live next month

To reach more residents, agency's board of directors meetings will be broadcast live, online via CVTV

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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Starting next month, look for your local television listings to include a new addition: The C-Tran Board of Directors.

Must-see TV? Maybe not. But it's part of a move by the transit agency to move its regular meetings into a more spacious venue, and reach a larger audience through CVTV. The change will start with the C-Tran board's April 9 meeting at the Vancouver Community Library, set to be broadcast live locally on cable channel 23 and online through www.cvtv.org.

The push came primarily from Clark County Commissioner David Madore, a C-Tran board member. He said the issues before the agency now — notably the Columbia River Crossing, light rail and bus rapid transit — deserve more attention than the regular meeting room at C-Tran's administrative offices can offer.

"C-Tran's decisions are much, much bigger now than they ever used to be," Madore said. "These are huge decisions, and it's important that these decisions don't happen in some obscure room."

He added: "The idea is to bring transparency, to turn on the lights, to engage the community."

Other C-Tran board members welcomed the idea. The agency evaluated several possible locations, but may not have settled on a permanent home for its board meetings just yet, said C-Tran public affairs director Scott Patterson.

The board picked the library's Columbia Room, which holds up to 120 people, as the location for

the April meeting partly because of its proximity to multiple bus lines. It's also already equipped for a live CVTV broadcast. That will cost C-Tran $530 per meeting, assuming a two-hour meeting.

But the library doesn't allow standing reservations for that space, which means the venue may not always be available. The C-Tran board usually meets on the second Tuesday of each month.

Other CVTV-ready options include Vancouver City Hall, the Clark County Public Service Center or the Northwest Regional Training Center.

The C-Tran board's current space at 2425 N.E. 65th Ave. has enough room for 50 people. Meetings aren't broadcast, but are recorded through written meeting minutes approved each month. Having archived video of C-Tran meetings offers a better record of the agency's conversations and decision-making process, Madore said.

C-Tran meetings have drawn big crowds in recent years, particularly in the run-up to two ballot measures in 2011 and 2012. Last year's measure, a proposed sales tax to help pay for light rail and bus rapid transit, ultimately failed. But light rail and the CRC, a $3.4 billion plan that would replace the Interstate 5 Bridge, remains a regular topic of conversation at C-Tran meetings. The agency sometimes moves meetings to its larger space at the Fisher's Landing Transit Center.

CVTV already provides live broadcasts for other bodies including the Vancouver City Council, Clark County commissioners and Port of Vancouver commissioners. The Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council is making a similar move toward broadcasting its meetings.

It's unclear where C-Tran board meetings will end up after April. Board Chair Bill Ganley, a Battle Ground city councilor, said he'd be open to moving meetings around to different parts of the county. Ganley said he's glad to engage residents any way possible.

"It's just good to get the public more aware of what's happening at C-Tran," Ganley said. "I think it's a good thing."

C-Tran's April 9 board meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Vancouver Community Library, 901 C St.

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541; http://twitter.com/col_enviro; eric.florip@columbian.com.