This week’s Gibsons council meeting opened with an unusual statement from chief administrative officer Emanuel Machado.
Before Machado read the statement, Mayor Bill Beamish explained it was part of an agreement to settle a “civil dispute” with former mayor Barry Janyk, triggered by comments from Machado at the Jun. 4, 2019 council meeting.
At that meeting, Machado offered what he called an expression of Town staff’s “collective frustration” with being “unfairly characterized” and “personal attacks and conspiracy theories… [that] have had a very negative impact in terms of morale and productivity.”
Machado referenced the Gibsons Alliance of Business and Community (GABC), the O’Shea-Oceanmount Community Asso-ciation, a group that has been challenging the approval of the Eagleview Heights project in court, and Janyk, who was one of the signatories of a letter opposing an Alternative Approval Process for a $1.76-million loan to repair and upgrade the Prowse Road sewer lift station.
Janyk was referred to by Machado as a “senior member” of GABC, and he made comments about Janyk’s work as a consultant to a developer seeking approval for a project in Revelstoke.
At the time, Janyk called Machado’s statement a “deeply unprofessional tirade” that included “untrue, vitriolic slurs concerning professional work I completed years ago in Revelstoke.”
Tuesday’s apology ran only three sentences. It acknowledged that “the statements regarding Mr. Janyk are untrue and [Machado and the Town of Gibsons] offer a complete and full retraction of the statements… Mayor Bill Beamish, on behalf of the Town of Gibsons and Emanuel Machado, apologizes to Mr. Janyk for any distress or embarrassment caused by Mr. Machado’s statements.”
In a Facebook post Jan. 13, Suzanne Senger, an executive of GABC, encouraged people to attend the meeting to hear the “long awaited formal apology” and the council chamber was full to overflowing with Janyk’s supporters, including his family.
The GABC post also said the group wanted to “show support and appreciation for Barry Janyk’s tireless efforts to make our town a better place, including holding the current administration to a higher standard than it has sunk to in recent years.”
During a public inquiry period at the meeting, Senger said she was surprised at the “brevity” of the apology and disappointed by its content.
She asked Beamish if the “full letter apologizing and retracting the defamatory comments” would be published as part of the minutes of the meeting. Beamish said it would.
Senger also asked, “Will you make a commitment to apologize to all those who were harmed that day, and will you make a commitment as a council ... not to allow that type of behaviour to happen again in these council chambers?”
“There’s no further plans for us to make any statements about that statement,” responded Beamish, who added that changes to the procedure bylaw, which governs how council meetings are conducted, are in the works.
Janyk made no comment and left the meeting shortly after council resumed discussion of the rest of the agenda items.
He told Coast Reporter the following day, “What he [Machado] said wasn’t true and I wasn’t prepared to let that go unchallenged. We did what we had to do.”