The vice-chair of the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) is disappointed Quesnel councillors have decided not to participate in North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee (NCJPC) meetings that include alternate directors acting on behalf of elected northern directors.
Council passed the resolution at its Feb. 12 strategic session, and the decision went into effect immediately.
CRD vice-chair John Massier, who is the Electoral Area C director, says they already had to cancel the March 12 NCJPC meeting because one electoral area director can’t guarantee they can make the meeting.
“We respect the City of Quesnel and value our interactions as northern directors, and we hope we can continue to have a dialogue with them,” said Massier.
“I guess we’re hoping the City will reconsider and keep the dialogue open.”
Messier explains CRD directors are required by law to appoint an alternate, and because each director represents the voters in a specific defined geographic area, if the director and his or her alternate are not at a meeting, that entire area is not represented at the table. This differs from a municipal council, where all of the councillors are elected to represent the voters in that municipality.
“I’m not a representative of the people in [the other directors’] area,” said Massier. “If I can’t make a meeting, and I call my alternate, and they can’t meet with the City, my people don’t get a voice.”
Massier points out the alternates take this job very seriously, and he says they are held accountable.
“They are appointed officials,” he said. “While they are not elected, they are still accountable to area residents through their director. They are sworn in and take an Oath of Office. They take it very seriously, and the directors take it very seriously who they choose.”
Massier says those alternates must also be nominated by two people who live in that electoral area.
“I look at the alternates that this group of four directors has appointed, and every one of them has local government experience,” he added. “Between the four of them, they have close to 80 years of local government experience.”
Addressing the idea that CRD directors could meet via tele-conference instead of appointed an unelected alternate to go to a meeting in their place, Massier says electoral area directors operate under the procedural bylaws of the CRD, and their bylaws only allow directors to phone into meetings for very specific reasons, such as illness, being away on regional district business and travel advisories that prevent them from getting to the meeting.
As well, they are limited to two phone-in meetings a year, he noted.
“We feel it’s very important to meet in person,” said Massier.