Building at 1174 Fir St.

White Rock squashes call for legal opinion on vote-rescind motion

Coun. Helen Fathers says the legality of a Sept. 9 motion needs further examination; the majority of her peers disagree.

A call for a second legal opinion on White Rock council’s recent decision to rescind a July 15 vote regarding relocating council chambers was defeated at city hall Monday night.

Coun. Helen Fathers motioned for the opinion “due to the preamble accompanying (the Sept. 9 motion) and the disclosure of a named business and its intent.”

She also cited a failure to follow protocol.

Fathers was referring to a motion by Coun. Bill Lawrence to withdraw his affirmative vote of July 15, when council voted 4-3 in favour of moving its chambers into a city-owned building at 1174 Fir St. and directing staff to invite expressions of interest for shared use of the space.

Lawrence – after seeking a legal opinion on whether he could change his vote – told council he was swayed after learning that a waterfront IT company sought more space, and may be interested in using the entire building.

He later told Peace Arch News the move was simply about “doing right by the taxpayers of White Rock,” as it would save the city significant money.

Fathers and Couns. Larry Robinson and Al Campbell voted against Lawrence’s motion. It carried with Mayor Wayne Baldwin and Couns. Grant Meyer, Louise Hutchinson and Lawrence in favour.

In the days following, both Fathers and Robinson were critical of the process leading up to the vote, calling for a special council meeting to “find out what’s transpired behind the scenes.”

That call was withdrawn soon after, however, their concerns remained.

In supporting Father’s motion Monday, Robinson referenced a two-inch-thick binder of documents council members inherited when elected in 2011. Each blue page represents legal issues that came about “because procedures weren’t followed,” he said.

He added that the issue of where council chambers is located is no longer key in the matter. What is important is that decisions are impartial, at arms length and in the best interest of the city, he said.

“What does matter is how we do the process.”

Fathers’ motion failed on a 4-3 vote, with Baldwin, Lawrence, Hutchinson and Meyer opposed.



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