Council tackles issues of freedom and democracy

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
April 13th, 2013

Council discussed three major democratic issues on Monday evening, from local issues of ongoing fallout from the arena scandal and questions of transparency in email communications, to an official council stand on the controversial Jumbo Resort development near Invermere, BC.

Auditor General soon to pick her cases


Coun. Kathy Moore is not holding her breath for the Auditor General for Local Government to pick Rossland’s infamous arena scandal as one of the three cases her office will tackle this term, nor one of the five the AGLG will take on the second term.


Looking at the goals and service agreements for the AGLG office, Moore said Rossland’s issues cover two of the six focus areas, “but they had over 50 requests for audits, so it’s highly unlikely they’ll pick ours up. I just have a feeling, we’re not going to be there.”


As part of the city’s damage control following the public’s discovery of the alleged transgressions of the former building inspector Jason Ward during the arena project in 2010 and 2011, a committee of three councillors—Coun. Tim Thatcher, Coun. Jody Blomme, and Coun. Cary Fisher—has been appointed to reconsider the controversial “delegation bylaw” which gives the CAO sweeping spending and decision-making power, and is considered one of the root causes that allowed Ward’s sideline business to slip through the cracks. The committee has yet to meet.


Rossland takes a stand on “Banana Republic” Jumbo Resort


The controversial faux municipality of Jumbo Resort, one of a handful of towns created as “resource communities” in isolated places, has earned a rebuke from Rossland’s council.


Coun. Kathy Moore moved that Rossland send a letter in support of a motion by the City of Invermere at the upcoming meeting of the Union of BC Municipalities to oppose Resolution B55. In it, the province appointed a municipal council for a municipality without a population, adding advisory boards and community plans to lock into the developer’s interests.


“I feel quite strongly about this,” Moore said. “It’s undemocratic and unnecessary. People in the area are against this, and B55 was a way to get around the will of the people.”


“It’s extremely dangerous,” she said, suggesting it seemed “Old Banana Republic more than Canadian governance.”


Coun. Cary Fisher disagreed, and said that “resource communities” that grow around remote mining discoveries are not different from one created around a remote ski area.


“This is a resource,” he said, “I don’t see any difference in a resource being tourism or copper. The process is unique insofar as there were only five in the province ever.”


Coun. Jody Blomme wanted to support Invermere’s motion. “I’m not comfortable with it, I don’t like it, and I don’t want it to keep happening.”


The motion passed with Mayor Greg Granstrom and Coun. Cary Fisher opposed.


Coun. Fisher calls for policy on email transparency


Coun. Cary Fisher found support on council for city staff to draft a policy on internal emails between council members.


“I’d like to put forward a motion that the emails we’re sending to each other now just stop until we can write a bit of a policy on it,” he suggested.


Fisher explained that certain topics are appropriate for email, where others slip into debates that should be open and transparent for the public, while other private issues may be better dealt with in a more secure setting than email provides.


“I’m not comfortable with some of the emails that are being tossed around, I don’t like it,” he said. “It doesn’t serve the public. If you’ve got something to say, say it here [at a regular meeting.]”


Council agreed to direct staff to draft a policy on email communication.

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