Council protocol questioned

Questions raised at last week's Port McNeill Council meeting.

PORT McNEILL—Council approved second and third readings of proposed bylaws for the Town’s five-year financial plan and its tax rate structure during its regular meeting Monday night.

But before the meeting was over, one councillor expressed concern over the the budget bylaw process and a member of the public asked Mayor Gerry Furney to explain the protocol for both council meetings and personal letters written as a town representative.

Bylaw 643-2013, establishing a five-year financial plan, and Bylaw 644-2013, setting tax rates for the coming fiscal year that include increases to residential, industrial and business rates, were approved on first reading during council’s last meeting, Apr. 22.

Only one member of the public — former councillor Shelley Downey — attended and spoke during the public hearing that preceded the Apr. 22 meeting. But her inquiry raised questions about how the budget was arrived at before being presented to the public.

“It kind of raised some flags for me,” Gwen Alsop said Monday following the second and third readings. “If Shelly Downey is concerned about something, about private meetings that possibly should be public, (I wonder) what is the protocol for that?”

Mayor Furney replied councillors may meet at any time to discuss any subject they wish, while noting that meetings concerning any bylaw change must be held in public. At the time of the original public hearing, he noted the budget was arrived at through consultation with treasurer Albert Sweet and council members.

“Anything to do with changing the rules we have to live by, the bylaws we have to have on record, has to be done in public meeting,” Furney said. “But we can discuss anything we want to outside a public meeting in the general interest of Port McNeill and the North Island and the industries we work with.”

Furney found himself defending those industries again when Alsop challenged him on a pair of letters he submitted to the Gazette and other political bodies in B.C. — one supporting the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and another related to the upcoming May 14 provincial election.

“I understand you have your own opinion on these matters,” Alsop said. “But should you be putting forth these letters as the Mayor of Port McNeill? Is this what the council believes; is this your point of view, too?”

Coun. Shirley Ackland pointed out the letters were signed by Furney, noting that his 40-plus year tenure as mayor makes it “hard to separate Gerry from Mayor of Port McNeill.”

But when Alsop pressed the question of protocol, Furney was moved to defend himself.

“I’m elected as mayor of Port McNeill by the public of Port McNeill,” he said. “I will stand up and be counted on behalf of the people who live and work here. I’m sorry, but that’s the way I stand, and the way I feel about things, and I will continue to be that way until the end of my term.”

Before Alsop spoke at the end of the meeting, coun. Gaby Wickstrom expressed her own concerns immediately prior to approval of second and third readings of the bylaws.

“One reason I continually ask for more open and transparent meetings is so the public can see how we make our decisions regarding spending of tax dollars,” she said. “I want them to hear the discussions of what we’re able to do and what we’re not able to do, and to hear how we have aging infrastructure and what steps we want to take to replace and repair that infrastructure.

“When we have meetings informally, in my opinion, we’re not as transparent as we should be, according to section 90 of the community charter, and I would respectfully ask that in the future we strive to meet more openly, especially where the budget talks are concerned.”

Because council’s next meeting date falls on the May long weekend, a special meeting for final approval of the five-year financial plan and of the 2013 tax rate bylaw was set for Wednesday evening, after the Gazette went to press.

 

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press Media file
Port Hardy RCMP on the hunt for porta-pottie arsonist

The porta-potties were lit on fire early in the morning on June 13

Eke Me-Xi students enjoy a field trip to Malcolm Island. (Submitted photos)
Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre takes field trip to Malcolm Island

Once at Bere Point, students made themselves at home in the day-use area

Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair logo
Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair cancelled again due to COVID-19 restrictions

The 2022 fall fair is still scheduled to take place in Port Hardy

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Most Read