Port Hardy Mayor Hank Bood wants weighted voting brought back to the Regional District of Mount Waddington.
Bood raised the issue at the board of directors meeting Oct. 18 when a request to contribute $20,000 to a new Forest Sector Workforce Training and Attraction Strategy grant application was presented for a vote.
Decisions brought before the RDMW board of directors can be voted on in one of three ways.
In an ‘unweighted vote’, every director votes and receives one vote. Unweighted votes are used to decide matters that affect the corporation and all jurisdictions.
Examples include regulatory bylaws, planning and land use issues.
‘Weighted’ votes govern decisions on money matters such as annual financial plans, borrowing, the acquisition and disposal of property.
Each director on the board is entitled to vote and each receives a number of votes based on their population.
Administrator Greg Fletcher clarified in a subsequent interview that there are 23 votes shared by the directors. Port Hardy has seven; Port McNeill has five; Area A has three; Area C has three; Port Alice has two; and Area B, D and Alert Bay each have one.
‘Stakeholder’ votes are used to make decisions related to the administration and operation of regional district services.
Only directors representing jurisdictions that participate in the service in question are entitled to vote. All stakeholder votes are weighted votes with each participating director receiving a number of votes that is proportional to the size of population they represent.
“If there is a weighted vote called for in a financial matter, then only the stakeholder vote (those participating in the service) would be counted for those in attendance,” Fletcher said.
If all directors were present for a regional services (all areas participating) matter, then there would need to be enough directors present in favour of the issue to meet the 12 weighted votes required for something to be adopted, explained Fletcher.
“In the case of a semiregional service, for example, for the arena (in Port McNeill) there would be nine weighted votes to count, but we have never had a weighted vote situation for any sub-regional services in the 14 years that I have been here,” said Fletcher. “I’ve never had a weighted vote,” said Chair David Rushton.
“This board is operated by consensus” and the only time a weighted vote is used is if there is a split vote, said Fletcher at the meeting.
There is no need for a weighted vote “if everybody agrees,” Fletcher said.
“We should be starting to use the rules that are in place,” said Bood and weighted votes should be called “every time there is a money issue. The weighted vote “is in our constitution,” said Bood, adding that he wants to make sure the people of the North Island “are represented on a proportional basis.”
Deputy Chair (Area C) Andrew Hory, said the regional district should be working on a consensus that benefits the entire region.
“It should be a little be more about the whole, and a little bit less of specific agendas for our individual communities,” said Hory.
“What we should strive for is consensus. We should be working for all in the region and a weighted vote is simply divisive,” said Mayor Shirley Ackland in an interview. “The rising tide lifts all boats,” Ackland said.
“If we are going to have weighted votes I want to know in advance,” said Area B Directory Phil Wainwright.
Bood said he wants to reintroduce the idea (of weighted votes), because “there have been some issues (lately).
“We’re talking about $20,000. I don’t see why we’re having a discussion about this at this point,” said Mayor Shirley Ackland.