Coun. Scott Tanner has been removed as Qualicum Beach’s alternate director at Regional District of Nanaimo meetings following a heated debate in Qualicum council chambers Monday night.
Coun. Dave Willie put forward the motion to remove Tanner from his position at the RDN and make Mayor Teunis Westbroek the alternate director, following Tanner’s speech to the RDN’s sustainability select committee last month. That’s where Tanner urged RDN directors to stop any changes to the Qualicum Beach’s Growth Containment Boundary (GCB). This was after the majority of Qualicum Beach council voted to amend the town’s Official Community Plan and extend the GCB to meet the town’s municipal boundary last month, something Tanner voted against. Willie said he has a problem with Tanner’s actions.
“Once the matter has been decided upon, the majority rules, the decision is a decision of council,” he said. “It is not proper protocol for individual members to disparage other members of council because they disagree with their opinion.”
Willie said that council had recently met with George Cuff, an advisor and consultant on the principles of governance and the elements of effective organizations, and that he explained proper protocol. Not only did Tanner identify himself as a Qualicum Beach councillor when he made his plea, he identified himself as the alternate RDN director, Willie said. Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer agreed Tanner’s actions were inappropriate.
“As a member of our council, to lobby against a council decision means that the next time he sits as an alternate at a board as a councillor we cannot rely on him to represent the opinion at this table,” said Luchtmiejer.
Tanner said that at a recent workshop council members attended, a question was asked whether a local government representative at the RDN was required to follow direction given by council and the answer was no.
“When they are at the regional district, they wear the regional district hat and are under no obligation whatsoever to follow the direction given by their council members,” he said.
He added that the subject at hand has not yet been adopted so the argument that once something is passed by council it is owned by council, doesn’t hold true.
Coun. Mary Brouilette said Tanner was missing the point — she said he had lobbied against his own council.
Willie said that Tanner was confused with what was said at the workshop.
Mayor Teunis Westbroek said that after a public hearing council is not to receive any written or verbal submissions about an application and that all of council members were guilty of breaching that rule. Since Willie had brought up George Cuff, Westbroek said that Cuff had recommended that the mayor be the representative at the RDN. So he made an amendment to the motion to make himself the director at the RDN instead of the alternate director.
“What?” Willie asked, seemingly bewildered.
“I would become the director,” Westbroek said. “You brought up Cuff and that was his recommendation.”
The amendment failed with Willie, Luchtmeijer and Brouilette voting against, after which there was laughter from the gallery.
The City of Parksville’s representative on the RDN board is not Mayor Chris Burger but a councillor, Marc Lefebvre. However the mayor of Lantzville sits on the RDN board, as does the mayor of Nanaimo. Seven of Nanaimo’s nine-member city council sit on the RDN board. The rest of the RDN’s 17-member board is made up of representatives of rural areas that do not have a mayor or council.
After Willie’s motion to remove Tanner passed with Willie, Luchtmeijer and Brouilette voting in favour, Westbroek confirmed that he was now the alternate director, which allowed him to at least be at the in-camera meetings.
Willie interrupted and said he could have been sitting in on in-camera meetings already. Westbroek disagreed and later sent an e-mail to The NEWS from RDN CAO Paul Thorkelsson that stated that it would not be “appropriate, nor in order, for councilors from an RDN municipality to attend an in-camera board meeting unless there were some very unique circumstances.”
Westbroek later said he was disappointed that council had removed Tanner and he believes council is putting the next stage of its process regarding the Growth Containment Boundary at risk.
Willie interrupted again, saying he disagreed and that it clearly stated in the B.C. planning and law practises guide that council couldn’t take, ask or answer questions regarding the matter, but ultimately they do not need to be sequestered after a public hearing.