Parksville city hall is stuck in the Twilight Zone

The satrap’s stool is indeed more powerful than the mayor’s chair. Harding is frustrated that so many meetings are held in camera.

In a recent editorial, John Harding touched on a theme that has been my familiar hobby-horse for the past couple of decades; namely how real decision-making at Parksville city hall lies with bureaucrats, and not elected politicians.

The satrap’s stool is indeed more powerful than the mayor’s chair. Harding is frustrated that so many meetings are held in camera which excludes him, and ultimately his readers, whose taxes keep city hall functioning.

Any common-sense democratic notion such as transparency is hidden behind locked doors in that concrete municipal shrine, where decisions often resemble something from the The Twilight Zone.

Harding would not be surprised to learn that his concerns are deep-rooted; let me draw just one instance that occurred exactly seven years ago this week. I had voluntarily researched fire hall costs in different parts of B.C. for a rookie councillor, who promised to present the numbers at the Sept. 21, 2009 council meeting.

Sadly, he sheepishly informed me after the meeting that he had been formally excused from any discussions on the fire hall by the mayor, on advice from the chief administrative officer (CAO), because the councillor lived next door to the fire chief.

Another councillor, who happened to be a media maven, was similarly excused because her husband and daughter were firefighters. Definite shades of The Twilight Zone.

However, all was not lost at that 2009 meeting, as the freshman bravely challenged the others around the table to do more number-crunching before raising their hands to vote on city staff’s proposals.

He received no support from any elected official; the councillor sitting beside him turned contemptuously, and said: “Let the managers manage.”

Your newspaper had previously reported that the scornful councillor had spent his working life as a bureaucrat and today he’s mayor of Parksville. Harding’s editorial indicates that his attitude is unchanged; the shambolic twilight zone situation remains at city hall.

Bernie SmithParksville

Just Posted

Parksville Beach Festival Society launches campaign for outdoor stage

Public invited to event May 25 to help with kickoff

Crime Report: Oceanside RCMP receive 328 complaints in one-week span

Vandalism and theft of a wheelchair among listed incidents

Controversial cell tower proposal in Coombs clears another hurdle

Committee indicates Rogers satisfactorily completed requirements

Parksville advocate to discuss harm-reduction measures for addicts

Morris, along with a panel of professionals, will be at the PCC on May 21

Oceanside RCMP member rides for childhood cancer research in Tour de Rock

Tim Kenning will cycle 1,000 kilometres in 22nd annual event

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

RCMP arrest violent offender on Vancouver Island

Campbell River police struggle with suspect and take him down with a taser

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

Two cats die in house fire in Nanaimo

Fire happened just after 2 p.m. Sunday on Fifth Street, one resident displaced

RDN looking into providing bus service 365 days a year

RDN transit committee to consider adding bus service on Christmas, New Year’s and Good Friday

One year after heartbreaking B.C. search, wife reflects on late husband

First anniversary of Ben Kilmer’s disappearance, and a search that galvanized Vancouver Island

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

Most Read