‘Speak for all of us’

Cranbrook councillor calls for more discussion on how the city’s representatives vote at the regional district board

Councillor Angus Davis wants council to have more say on how Cranbrook’s representatives vote at the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board of directors.

Coun. Davis made a motion at the January 21 meeting that the two council members who sit at the regional board consult with the rest of council on “topics which are of significant interest locally” before they vote, read the motion.

Council eventually agreed to defer the motion until Mayor Wayne Stetski returns from vacation later this month.

However, it did spark lively debate about the role of council on the regional board.

The RDEK board of directors is made up of 15 elected officials – six area directors and nine from municipalities. As the largest municipality, Cranbrook has two seats at the board, filled by Mayor Stetski and Coun. Bob Whetham.

Coun. Davis said he has been “caught flat-footed” on two occasions recently after reading, in the Townsman, comments made by Stetski or Whetham at the board about infrastructure funding, and Jumbo Glacier Resort.

“It puts me on the spot when I read in the paper of a certain stance that has been taken on issues that are said on behalf of the City of Cranbrook and on which the rest of the council of the City of Cranbrook has had no input. It’s a deep concern to me,” said Davis.

In the motion, Davis suggested council initate a consultative process to discuss significant issues.

But Coun. Whetham said that would be impractical when the RDEK board agenda is released five days prior to the meeting, and one section alone contains 75 pages of material.

“The issue of trying to bring things to council is a difficult one,” said Whetham.

Coun. Gerry Warner said that he is concerned that Davis’s motion is undemocratic.

“You have a free election, you elect people, and to a certain degree, you trust them to make decisions for you. Sometimes they will make decisions you agree with and sometimes they’ll make ones you don’t agree with,” said Warner.

“We trust the two people who go to the RDEK meetings to advocate on our behalf.”

Coun. Diana J. Scott said that on the regional district board, Cranbrook’s representatives are expected to make decisions on a regional basis, rather than from the city’s perspective.

“My understanding is you are not necessarily advocating for the city position – you are there as part of a regional board trying to make the best decision regionally,” she said, adding that board members should be free to change their vote if the discussion has swayed them.

However, she agreed that it was worth council discussing its role on the regional board.

“I definitely think we should have input. I’d like to have a discussion on how we as councillors feel about issues and pass it on for our representatives to vote on,” said Coun. Scott.

Coun. Denise Pallesen suggested that the motion be deferred until the next council meeting on February 4, when Mayor Stetski will be back at the helm.

Councillor Sharon Cross was Acting Mayor for Monday’s council meeting.

See issues of the Townsman later this week for more news from city council.