District of Sechelt Coun. Alice Lutes is urging Mayor John Henderson and the rest of council to publicly disclose the reasons she was removed from her committee appointments and her director role in the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD).
“I believe this decision was manifestly unfair and a politically-motivated attack on my reputation,” Lutes said in a press release issued Tuesday. “Unfortunately, because this decision was made in camera, I am not legally permitted to say anything further unless council agrees to the release of information to the public. I strongly urge council to release this information.”
Lutes said the public should be given all of the facts, “particularly because I believe that considerable public funds were spent by the mayor in this process.”
On Monday, the District announced that council, during a closed meeting held that day, had resolved to remove Lutes from her appointments, effective immediately.
Asked the next day to provide a reason for the decision, Henderson said he had no comment beyond the District’s statement.
“The advice I’ve received is under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,” Henderson told media during a press conference on the Sunshine Coast Community Forest.
Lutes, who was present at the media briefing, noted the decision was made in camera and said she would issue a statement after obtaining legal advice.
On Wednesday, the District issued a second press release from the mayor on the Lutes matter, reiterating that all members of council “are obliged” to keep details “confidential at this time.”
The release states the decision was not “made solely by the mayor,” as legislation requires a vote by the majority of council members present at the meeting.
“On behalf of council, I assure the public that Coun. Lutes was provided with the utmost procedural fairness prior to the adoption of the resolution,” Henderson said in the release. “Council is committed to keeping the public fully informed on this matter to the extent permitted by law.”
Asked by media during Wednesday’s council meeting if council had appointed a replacement to the SCRD board, Henderson said no decision had been made yet.
“I, at the moment, am the alternate and I will be doing my best to participate in the regional district meetings in the days to come,” he said.
In addition to the SCRD board, Lutes was removed from the board of directors of Sechelt Recreation Services Inc., from the arts, culture and heritage advisory committee, and from her position as alternate on the youth advisory committee.
In her statement Tuesday, Lutes said she intended to carry on in her reduced role and “continue working diligently and faithfully to perform my duties as a councillor for the District of Sechelt, as I have done for the past four years.”
Lutes was the only member of the previous council re-elected last November, receiving 1,478 votes.