White Rock’s new council’s only full meeting of 2011 ended on a tense note Monday, after some councillors took issue with the mayor’s choice of representative on the Metro Vancouver board of directors.
Returning Coun. Helen Fathers was named to Metro’s board at the group’s inauguration Dec. 5, with Mayor Wayne Baldwin to be the alternate.
But in a motion this week, Coun. Louise Hutchinson said the positions should be reversed, stating it would be more appropriate for the new mayor to take the lead.
Couns. Al Campbell and Grant Meyer both supported the stance.
“We feel it’s really important that because we have a new mayor, we feel the mayor should be our representative on Metro,” Hutchinson said.
“It has everything to do with you being a new mayor.”
Hutchinson noted the appointment was not questioned when it was announced Dec. 5 because the inaugural meeting “was not the place to debate that.”
Fathers, noticeably uncomfortable with the discussion, noted she had already been sworn in by Metro and attended her first meeting.
“I accepted it, I’m happy with it,” she said. “We’d have to go through a whole new swearing-in process.
“If council wants to go in and change it… feel free.”
Baldwin disagreed the change was necessary. He noted a discussion with former mayor Catherine Ferguson, who told him it was not paramount for the mayor to hold the Metro role.
Coun. Mary-Wade Anderson agreed it need not be the mayor’s responsibility, though she added it was “a little off-putting” that she wasn’t suggested for the role of alternate liaison – a position she held prior to the Nov. 19 election.
“You don’t have to have a mayor at the Metro board,” she said. “There are lots of councillors there. I’ve been on this board and know the drill completely.”
On Wednesday, Anderson said she was “still very emotional” on not receiving either appointment.
“Everybody’s dream is to get beyond the alternate and become the director,” she said. “I’d hoped after 12 years that would happen.
“It was a little heartbreaking to find you spent all those years and have someone with very little experience walk in and become the director.”
Campbell asked council Monday to add Anderson as a second alternate, but Baldwin said it was not an option. In the end, Fathers maintained her role. Hutchinson’s motion was defeated, with Fathers, Anderson, Coun. Larry Robinson and Baldwin opposed.
Baldwin told Peace Arch News the discussion came “as a bit of a surprise.” He’d heard no concern with the appointment prior to Monday’s meeting, he said.
Baldwin said Fathers was given the position for a number of reasons, including that she had the time and that it would be “good for her overall development, as it is for all councillors, just to get a taste of what the Metro government is like and how it works.”
Typically, mayors’ committee appointments across the province are supported. In Vancouver, city officials told PAN they could not recall a time when a council appointment had been disputed.
Tuesday, Baldwin agreed the discussion created some tension, but said hard feelings are difficult to avoid in such situations.
“We’ll try to dissipate it.”
Council voted unanimously Monday to approve eight liaison appointments to outside organizations:
• Business Improvement Association – Robinson
• South Surrey/White Rock Chamber of Commerce – Campbell
• Fraser Health – Baldwin
• Lower Mainland Local Government Association – Meyer (alt. Robinson)
• South Fraser Child & Youth Council – Hutchinson
• Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation – Anderson (alt. Hutchinson)
• School District 36 – Hutchinson (alt. Fathers)
• White Rock Museum & Archives – Hutchinson
Appointments to five standing committees announced earlier this month include:
• Finance and audit: chair Baldwin, all of council as members
• Grants-in-aid: chair Campbell, members Hutchinson, Robinson
• Governance and legislation: chair Fathers, all of council as members
• External communications review sub-committee: chair Robinson, members Fathers, Meyer
• Land use / planning: deputy mayor to chair; all of council as members.
• Fraser Valley Regional Library Board – chair Fathers, alt. Robinson (Hutchinson had initially been named chair, but asked to be removed for personal reasons)
• Labour Relations Board – designate Baldwin, alt. Robinson
• TransLink Mayors’ Council – designate Baldwin, alt. Meyer,
Councillors each to serve two-month turns, with Meyer to continue in the role through February, followed by Anderson, Fathers, Campbell, Robinson and Hutchinson.