Wednesday April 23, 2014

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A positive start to 2013



Mayor Henderson’s New Year’s message (Coast Reporter, Jan. 4) recognizes the past year was a rocky one for Sechelt council and asks that we “leave the negative energy back in 2012” and go forward on a positive note in 2013.

Nice sentiments, but there remain unanswered questions from 2012.

As we busied ourselves for Christmas, why did the majority of council, on Dec. 17, misuse the in-camera confidentiality provisions of the Community Charter to shield the rationale for, the discussion of and the appointments to the newly created financial advisory committee (FAC) from the public scrutiny of an open council meeting as required by law? How does the timing of the FAC’s creation relate to the almost $1 million of unbudgeted spending? With councillors legally responsible for managing of District finances what is the role of an appointed FAC?

We don’t yet know the mandate of the FAC, which is comprised of four hand-picked members: Mayor Henderson and three volunteers, Richard Wilson, Debbie Mealia and Bruce Morris, all of whom have financial experience, but were also active in the electoral campaigns of the current councillor majority.

The in-camera session was justified referencing section 90(1)(k) of the Community Charter supposedly because the subject matter involved the potential provision of “a municipal service.”  It is a stretch to conceive the creation and appointment of a hand-picked, voluntary advisory body constitutes a municipal service, yet the use, or rather the abuse of section 90, was employed to deny the public’s right to know the rationale behind the FAC and the choice of committee persons. Why? This demonstrates a lack of respect for the democratic principles and practices of the Charter.

Answers to the above and a commitment to limit in-camera sessions to those allowed by law would be a positive start to 2013!

Jef Keighley, Halfmoon Bay



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