Quesnel councillors will not meet with unelected alternates at joint planning meetings

Council votes not to participate in North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee meetings with alternates

From now on, Quesnel city councillors will not attend North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee (NCJPC) meetings that include unelected alternates.

At the Feb. 26 meeting, city manager Byron Johnson shared a resolution passed by council at its Feb. 12 strategic sessions that states Quesnel council provides notice to the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) board that, effective immediately, Quesnel council will not participate in NCJPC meetings that include alternate directors acting on half of elected northern directors.

“What an unelected alternate is, is if an elected official from the Cariboo Regional District cannot make a meeting, they have a right, under their bylaws, to appoint an alternate, unelected, who attends meetings on that elected official’s behalf,” explained Johnson.

This resolution was unanimously ratified during the strategic planning session, according to Mayor Bob Simpson.

“Upon passing this resolution, we did inform in advance the chair of the regional district, staff informed the CEO and our co-chair of the NCJPC informed the co-chair,” he said.

“This is a long-standing issue that we have where alternates who are unelected can actually be privy to, potentially at times, very sensitive information in-camera, with no accountability measures associated with that, that are normally assigned to elected officials,” he said. “Also, these are individuals who may or may not even be conscious of the day-to-day operations that they’re managing, along with other things.

“So council has made the decision that while regional district directors are compelled under the law to appoint an alternate, they are not compelled under any law to use an alternate, so therefore, we do not have to meet with alternates. We will only meet with the elected officials.”

In its resolution, council notes that participation at the NCJPC meeting by electronic means is available if an elected official cannot attend the meeting.

Council states it believes in “the values of accountability and responsibility of elected officials to the public who elected them,” and council values the “collegial relationship” which developed over the previous term between the council and the northern CRD directors.

Coun. Mitch Vik says he is “very much in favour” of the resolution.

“I think it’s important, especially for new councillors who are coming around for the first time here. The process by which we became elected here, I think, is sacred and very important, and I know personally, I had some issues with certainly having to make important decisions at North Cariboo Joint Planning with ones who were not elected,” he said.

“This certainly satisfies my concerns.”

Lindsay Chung
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