At the second North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee (NCJPC) meeting of 2019, held May 13 in the Quesnel Youth Soccer Association boardroom, the northern area directors from the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) and members of Quesnel City Council had a chance to speak face-to-face to address the controversy surrounding the use of alternate directors.
In February, Quesnel council voted not to attend NCJPC meetings that include alternate directors attending on behalf of CRD Electoral Area directors.
In the committee’s first meeting since that decision was made, CRD CAO John MacLean provided information about the Local Government Act and the use of alternate directors, and he also noted this information will be brought to the CRD policy committee for discussion as well.
Electoral area directors must appoint an alternate director who can attend meetings if they are unable to.
MacLean told committee members that alternate directors do take an oath of office, like elected officials must take an oath, and the alternate must be nominated by two people who live in the electoral area he or she will represent.
Coun. Mitch Vik brought up the idea of alternates being elected.
“In principle, I have no misgivings or any objection to the concept of alternates, and I think it’s appropriate given the unique relationship a director has with their voters, but maybe [the legislation] needs to be modernized and say [alternates] need to be elected,” he said.
Area I (West Fraser-Nazko) Director Jim Glassford expressed disappointment at the situation, noting they’ve only had three of seven committee meetings so far since the municipal election last October, and the haven’t had a chance to build up trust within the group because they have barely had a chance to speak to each other.
Glassford also noted his alternate is very experienced and has his confidence.
“I don’t use my alternate, but my alternate is quite capable of coming and talking to you,” he said. “She probably knows more than I do. She’s quite capable of stepping in at any point for me.”
Coun. Ron Paull emphasized at the end of the day, his concern is with the process, not personalities.
“I think alternates would be on the ballot so you know who you are voting for and you know the score before the game starts,” he said. “I hope we can move forward, and I value the work of the Joint Planning Committee.”
During the meeting, the idea of moving to quarterly meetings came up, as meeting less often could potentially alleviate the scheduling problems and ensure directors could attend the meetings.
Mayor Bob Simpson said he thinks they could easily move to quarterly meetings and be efficient, and he felt there are process-related changes that need to be made to move forward.
“We have a lot of work to clean up how the committee works,” he said.
Quesnel council brought up the issue again the next night (May 14) at its council meeting, and after much discussion, councillors voted to rescind their decision from February and propose a business meeting with the City and CRD CAOs, the NCJPC vice-chairs, the chair of the CRD, and mayor Simpson to hash out a Terms of Reference, meeting norms and policy pieces for the committee.
Coun. Goulet opposed the decision to rescind.
“This particular issue has been one of those ones that we each really have to reflect on our reasons why we moved forward the way we have,” said Coun. Laurey-Anne Roodenburg. “As I stated last night, I think we should start looking at what meeting norms would look like at that table — I think that’s one of the positive steps forward.”
— with files from Heather Norman