Former Gibsons mayor Barry Janyk and the president of the O’Shea-Oceanmount Community Association (OOCA) say they were unfairly characterized in a public statement by the Town’s chief administrative officer.
Emanuel Machado read a statement at the June 4 council meeting accusing the Gibsons Alliance of Business and Community (GABC) of “ongoing bullying and harassment” of staff, most recently over the Town’s plan to borrow $1.76 million to repair and upgrade the Prowse Road sewer lift station which is the subject of an Alternate Approval Process with a June 12 deadline.
In his statement Machado linked both Janyk and OOCA to GABC.
Janyk was the lead signatory for a group that wrote a May 23 letter claiming the Town was using taxpayer dollars to benefit a developer because the George Hotel and Residences isn’t required to contribute more to the cost of the project.
The letter was also copied to RCMP, the Attorney General, several provincial ministries, and the Auditor General for Local Government. The letter’s other signatories included former councillor Lee Ann Johnson and GABC president Suzanne Senger. GABC said at the time the letter was also intended “to support a request for a criminal investigation.”
Janyk, who was referred to by Machado as a “senior member” of GABC, told Coast Reporter he’s not associated with the group, and in a letter this week he said, “As in the McCarthy trials of 1950, I can solemnly and honestly attest that I am not – nor have I ever been – a member of the GABC nor have I ever donated to them.”
Janyk called Machado’s statement a “deeply unprofessional tirade” that included “untrue, vitriolic slurs concerning professional work I completed years ago in Revelstoke.”
He also took issue with Machado’s assertion that while he was acting as a consultant to a developer in Revelstoke he was “strongly opposing development in Gibsons.”
“Just what ‘development’ was I against?” Janyk asks in the letter. “This from an individual who occupied a junior position in Dawson Creek for most of my 12 years in office – a time when we sought consultation and collaboration, then worked together to build the community that was internationally recognized for enshrining and respecting its natural capital that so many now seek to exploit.”
William Baker, president of the O’Shea-Oceanmount Community Association, also responded to Machado’s statement through a letter to Coast Reporter.
“That statement is false,” Baker wrote of Machado’s characterization of OOCA as “an Upper Gibsons Chapter of the Gibsons Alliance of Business and Community (GABC).”
“Our neighbourhood association is a completely different legal entity from GABC… Our membership is different, our leadership is different and our mandates are different.”
Baker also said the association fully supports “Mayor [Bill] Beamish’s vision of an honest, transparent and fair municipal government that engages in meaningful consultation,” but goes on to say, “Had that occurred with the former council we believe the significant legal fees incurred by the Town and the various societies in Gibsons would not have been required… I’m not sure how Mr. Machado’s ‘harsh critique’ helps to rebuild trust.”
During the June 6 broadcast of Eastlink Community TV’s Talk to Your Local Government, Beamish said, as he had at the June 4 council meeting, that he had no advance knowledge of what Machado would say.
When asked whether, after hearing the statement, he agreed with it, Beamish responded that he was “not going to go into that.”
“I do agree, and I said it in the election, that we need to bring the community together,” Beamish continued. “There’s the idea out there that the Town is not being open and transparent, but I can assure you there’s more information on our website today than there ever was.”
Beamish also said he recognizes that “we still need to do some work in and with the community.”
“After the meeting [June 4] I reached out to the president of UBCM and let him know that we are having an issue – I’d rather he hear if from me than read it in the newspaper. I’ve asked him if he has some suggestions, with his knowledge of having worked around the province with various communities, for somebody who is good with community mediation and working with communities,” he said.
Beamish could not say if council would take any role in addressing the responses from the groups or people named in Machado’s statement.
“We’ll take advice on that… Our staff doesn’t want to get into a cycle of the same issues they had for the last five years. We’d like to break that cycle – we can’t do it alone, we have to do it with the community.”