Who should vote and who should leave the room?
Councillors must step aside.
At last Monday's Council Meeting (August 17, 2009), the inevitable result of the shenanigans of the last municipal election began to show themselves, and the result was less than satisfactory.
One of the standard rules to prevent any actual or preceived conflict of interest is that councillors who have a business interest or who have accepted money from someone (as in campaign money, or money for services rendered for example), should 'recuse' themselves (excuse themselves from voting), on any proposals or motions relating to anyone to whom they might be seen to be beholden.
So each time a Vantreight proposal comes up we see Mayor Mar leave the room after explaining that he has a business relationship with Vantreight Farms.
Each time the Senanus pipeline (and now the new Kubek line) comes up, we see Councillor Bryson recuse himself because he believes he is in conflict by virtue of being a leaseholder and farmer in those zones. He perceives a conflict (although no one else does, but more about this aspect later), so he steps aside.
At last Monday night's Council meeting we saw Councillors continue to sit at the table even though they had accepted election donations from the proponents of a couple of major local issues and from their companies and even though they have worked for and received remuneration from some of those proponents.
When David Wilson, a member of the public, came forward to object to this, he was threatened and bullied by Councillor Siklenka, who had the chair in the Mayor's absence. As Mr. Wilson tried to hand in his letter on the issue Siklenka said "If you take one more step Mr. Wilson, I will have you thrown out."
He repeated this several times and the whole silly scene is on tape with the Residents and Ratepayers of Central Saanich who are taping every meeting as the minutes no longer fully reflect the decision making process.
Mr. Wilson was not yelling or doing anything disruptive, he simply stated his belief that two Councillors were in conflict and should leave the meeting. The Chair's behaviour was shameful.
The only exception to this conflict rule is when a benefit resulting from a proposal is something that the greater part of the community would also share.
This is the case with Alastair Bryson who has no particular personal benefit from voting for or against these pipeline proposals. The only benefit is one that would accrue to anyone in the general neighbourhood. It is sad that he has decided to recuse himself on such a vital issue for we need his wisdom and voice to help protect our farmland and our rural ambience. I sincerely believe he is mistaken in doing this and has left the District vulnerable.
Sad times in Central Saanich. Our Official Community Plan, Urban Containment Boundary and the Regional Growth Strategy are under attack by those who think growth can continue forever and who have no respect for the decisions and concerns of the community.