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October 28, 2017 3:21 am

Towns in Turmoil

Sunday, July 19, 2015 @ 3:45 AM

by Dermod Travis,

If the screams for help are any indication it would seem a few town councils aren’t settling in so well following last November’s elections.

Couple of common themes: the life expectancy of what may be the most risky job in civic life and old-fashioned collegiality.

Since the last tally, a few more towns have said “au revoir” to their Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), including: the Regional District of Central Kootenay, Fraser Lake, Kitimat and Sicamous.

Lillooet terminated one CAO in September 2013, hired a new one three months later who quit last month. Penticton’s CAO quit in January, an interim CAO was appointed in February who quit in June too.

There’s also a bit of a musical chairs quality with the CAO file.

Mission said goodbye to its CAO in February who then emerged as a financial consultant to Lillooet (desperately needed one) and Kitimat said goodbye this month to its CAO who is moving on to take up the position in Mission.

Sadly, the civic mayhem isn’t limited to staffing, it’s cross-contaminated a few council chambers, sometimes making the Hatfield and McCoy feud seem like an episode of the Brady Bunch.

Consider these headlines: Bitterness lingers as Lantzville’s council implodes; Tensions flare in Pouce Coupe council dispute; White Rock councillor censured over online ‘defamation;’ Volunteer firefighters in Chase, B.C. being bullied by mayor.

And that’s just in the last 90 days.

In Grand Forks – as if the city didn’t have enough problems after firing their CAO last December paying him $200,000 in severance and rehiring him two months later – council has circled the wagons with guns squarely aimed inwards.

They’ve picked a fight between themselves by serving papers on one councillor to have her disqualified over an alleged conflict of interest.

The city claims councillor Julia Butler was in a conflict over a vote on the city’s water meter work program while owning a seasonal gardening business. Butler is fighting the move.

And in a remarkable display of civic pride, Grand Forks’s mayor Frank Konrad ended a recent CBC interview with: “Would you really think this is a great community to live in with what is going on with city government?”

Further north, in Pouce Coupe, they’ve already had one by-election since last November’s elections and – as the Alaska Highway News has pointed out – tensions are flaring.

Rumours are rife in the village that efforts are afoot to bully one councillor off council. The bad blood has entangled the mayor, a Facebook page, a citizen’s watchdog group and the the RCMP.

Note to Grand Forks and Pouce Coupe: councils aren’t tree forts where you get to vote to keep the girls out.

In Lantzville, four of seven councillors just cut to the chase and quit, as did two senior staff.

Next door in Nanaimo, council is bringing new meaning to damn the torpedoes when it comes to debating the future of Colliery Dam Park.

According to the Nanaimo Daily News, “passions seethed” at a council meeting this month. One resident stormed out of the meeting yelling, “he’s the mayor, not the king.”

In Lillooet, residents woke up in April to learn that the district had spent $204,817 in legal and auditing costs in about 15 months, a little shy of $90 for every man, woman and child in the community. It includes $30,437 in legal fees so that a former CAO could sue a handful of residents for defamation.

This month residents got to wake up to the news that the consultant the district hired to review its finances doesn’t “have confidence in the numbers used as the basis for the District’s 2015 budget.”

Warm fuzzy feelings all round no doubt, but not much of a surprise for a town that’s had three mayors and is now looking for its third CAO since 2012.

It’s time for someone in Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes’s office to answer the phone before things go really south.

Otherwise former Alberta Municipal Affairs minister Doug Griffiths – who once wrote a book entitled “13 ways to kill your community” – will have a few more chapters to add in the next edition.

Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC. www.integritybc.ca


The Province better institute an IIO (with powers) to act as a watchdog agency. Taxpayers like always get the short end of the stick. These people were elected to do a specific job which does not include infighting and ego trips.

And they just instituted an extra year on to council’s term this time around

If our previous Mayor/council and City mngr had been more public about their issues from behind closed doors, our town might have sounded like these one’s in this article.
After reading this, our current group in charge looks pretty damn good (unless your one of the many still fuming over the renaming of the Park).
Some of the towns in this article sound like prime candidates for a Jerry Springer episode.
Wondering if Grand Forks CAO got to keep all his severance after being rehired?

Pouce Coupe’s Mayor is a volunteer firefighter. He campaigned/supports paying “volunteer” firefighters.

Feels like a conflict of interest. Then again, maybe he can campaign for that but cannot vote on that when it comes to the Council table. Perhaps that table will be in a closed session since it involves “staff”.

Small town politics is what most of it is.

The amusing part of the article was near the end where Dermod Travis states; “It’s time for someone in Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes’s office to answer the phone before things go really south.”

Seriously? He wants an unaccountable and non-transparent provincial government to sort out the problems in municipal governments? After 2 sawmill explosions resulting in deaths and dismemberment, WorkSafeBC bungling, deleting info requested under the Freedom of Information Act, the mass firing of health care workers, a suicide and subsequent RCMP probe that never happened, Mount Polley, signing a LNG deal that is not in the best interest of BC, the list goes on…

Sage, there are supposed to be greener pastures elsewhere!

You are correct PrinceGeorge, particularly if you are a child, BC has the highest child poverty rate in Canada, so living anywhere but BC is greener pastures!

Children, I must emphasis, how soulless is that?

Including the Dave barrett years the Ndp were in power about 13 years. In that time they had 5 premiers Harcourt the longest at 5 years before Glenn Clark knifed him in the back. Since barrett the incompetent right wing has been in power 30 years with 5 premiers. The political right seems to be able to keep their own house in order while the left seem to have trouble uniting behind anyone. So I agree the political right is far from perfect but I fail to see how the NDP who seem cursed with in house backstabbing can be seen as the better solution. Sophic is there a 3rd provincial choice I am unaware of. Keep in mind they knifed carol James before the last election – and she probably would’ve won it.

Actually ski51, the Liberal right has been the worst economically and fiscally this province has ever seen. If you disagree please explain why the chart in the following link is wrong then.

http: //commonsensecanadian.ca/bc-liberal-legacy-a-huge-debt-burden/

Just scroll down until you see the chart that shows historic fiscal comparisons between the NDP, the Social Credit and Liberals. Kind of tough thumping the Liberal chest when all evidence points to their extreme incompetence!!!

Just curious… does anyone else think that red “BC Liberal” line is kind of steep?

Seems someone always thinks they’re right, when the majority of voters keep telling them they’re always wrong. LMAO.

You do know how to read a graph Sophic? The steep red line is the contractual obligations, not the provincial debt. If you read the graph you would notice that the NDP built up roughly the same amount of debt in less time. You would also note that the entire world went through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression during the Liberals time in power which would account for some of that debt accrual. Before you go all foam at the mouth about the contractual debt ( and it is alarming), look to see who is going to be owed that debt. Mostly Government institutions ie; a Health Care, Education etc.

The reason why ski51 is not responding is because he looked at the debt chart on my posted link, and believe me Grizzly2, if you seen it you wouldn’t be laughing your ass off, you would be seriously concerned. Your comment is childish and immature, if you are going to join in the discussion at least have something intelligent to say.

You are correct about the debt verse contractual obligations detoe44, British Columbia’s debt reached a new record high $60.693 billion on March 31 and contractual obligations are nearing $100 billion.

That is according to the July 15-released Public Accounts for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

The debt increased $4.877 billion during the year. The total includes $41.068 billion taxpayer-supported debt for government operations, education, health and transportation infrastructure and $19.625 billion self-supported debt from Crown corporations and agencies. The largest Crown corporation debt is $15.559 billion for BC Hydro.

By comparison, the accumulated provincial net debt was $45.154 billion as of March 31, 2011, just over two weeks after Christy Clark was sworn-in as premier. In other words BC’s debt rose at an alarming rate in just over the past 4 years, (approximately 4 billion per year) yet that amazingly steep red Liberal line doesn’t seem to phase you detoe44? There are other provinces in Canada who are doing better that BC, yet they are experiencing the same effects of a world wide recession, hmmm… makes a person wonder…

“In the last eleven years under the BC Liberal government the provincial debt has increased by a factor of 5 times, or to a per capita amount of about $40,000.”

We are going to be finding out what it is like to be like Greece in short order, the level of debt is crowding out our ability to pay for programs and services, while the Christy Clark government does absolutely nothing about it.

Sophic, read my post. In brackets, concerning the contractual obligations. The point I am making is that the NDP racked up as much debt ( 15 billion or so) as did the Liberals… in less time & without a world wide recession to deal with. Yep, the Liberals have done some underhanded shenanigans while in power but even if I were to vote for them (I didn’t), if there were no other alternative, I would vote Liberal a million times before I ever voted NDP. I was a card carrying NDPer until Glen Clark & his merry band of backstabbers entered the picture. Ski51’s post is quite accurate concerning how the NDP eat their own.

Here’s a non-partisan issue. The Ministry of Children and Families has been a disaster for at least 25 years. The NDP couldn’t fix it and the Liberals haven’t been able to fix it. Why is that?

“The prominent credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded B.C.’s financial outlook, lowering the province’s debt rating from stable to negative. Moody’s says the downgrade reflects B.C.’s worsening financial situation”

www. cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-s-debt-rating-downgraded-by-moody-s-1.1294355

As for back stabbing, nobody throws more people under their bus than the Federal Conservatives, only sometimes they have to be careful who they throw under that bus…. yet you still vote for the Cons… double standards much?

http: //thetyee.cachefly.net/Opinion/2013/10/22/duffbus.jpg

How someone could even attempt to defend this Christy Clark government’s financial incompetence is beyond me, too much fruit loops for breakfast is my guess.

Sophic, read & comprehend much? What part of I did not vote for the liberals did you not get?
Nor did I vote for Harper. As for how can I defend Christie Clark’s financial record. I just thank
god it was not the NDP in power over the last 7 years. You would not b able to afford your Fruit

Same old unsubstantiated baloney; “IF” the NDP was in power the last 7 years, well they are not, and this Liberal Government “IS” driving our province broke!!!

Wow, have you guys ever gone off topic.

No Sophic, not unsubstantiated. The NDP WERE in power during the greatest economic expansion in human history & almost drove this province completely into the ditch. Mining, forestry, oil & gas all fled BC because Glen Clark & his jolly band of sycophants drove industry away & caused us to go from a “have” province to a ” have not”. While the rest of our country & most of the world were prospering we were left in the dust because of NDP fiscal & political policy.

Yes, SS went off at 1:17 pm.

Ya, looks like SS had another lonely day.

If that’s the case detoe44, why didn’t the prominent credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service downgraded B.C.’s financial outlook when the NDP were in power, like they have under this Christy Clark government?

All of the evidence I have presented indicates a government that is driving our province into a financial crisis, and warning signs from Moody’s Investors Services is the proof; by changing BC’s financial outlook from stable to negative, they are warning investors about putting their money into BC, because it is no longer a sable place to invest money… so don’t go blaming the NDP for that, look at the Christy Clark Liberals.

OK then back to the subject of the news article; perhaps these towns and cities are in such turmoil because of the massive offloading of costs the province has transferred to them?

In 1990, local governments across B.C. were expected to contribute one-third of the funding for capital projects. By 2012, their share had climbed to more than half, as provincial and federal governments backed out.

Likewise, the provincial government has dealt with deficit pressures by skimping on care for the mentally ill. That, too, has taken a toll. Municipal police budgets rose 134 per cent between 2001 and 2010. A good part of the increase went for incidents that were mental-health related. ~timescolonist

Asking the provincial government to step in and help fix towns and cities in turmoil, when it is the lack of support from governments themselves that helped contribute to the turmoil, seems appropriate to me. This is the way its been going for the last 10 or so years; The Federal Government has been offloading costs onto the provinces, the provinces have been offloading costs onto the municipalities, and they are the ones caught holding the bag.

Uh, Sophic, you may want to rethink what you just wrote. Moody’s downgraded BC’s credit rating to AA- in 1996. Interestingly, BC did not hit AAA ratings until 2006 under the Campbell Liberals, only recently did we downgrade to AAA- & unstable. Still leaps & bounds ahead of Glen Clark & 8 consecutive deficit budgets.

Hey Sopic.? Just what does your dream government look like.? Now let’s here it from you instead of a bunch of hearsay links..I have a feeling you hate the system no matter which government is in power..

Time to drive home the point to those of you who are following this discussion thread.

Vancouver Business Magazine states; “The credit rating agency downgraded B.C.’s outlook from stable to negative in December 2012, citing increased debt and lower-than-anticipated natural gas revenues.”

That was in 2012, here is why we need to be very worried, debt is still rising, so the Christy Clark government is doing nothing about that, however lower than anticipated natural gas revenues just came true, as the Christy Clark government is locking BC into a LNG deal at prices at rock bottom market prices. The deal is so bad for BC that even Gordon Campbell’s previous right hand man say this about it: “But Brown, the former chief of staff to Gordon Campbell, said his old boss would never have signed a deal like this. “This is not a deal that the Campbell government would have ever, ever put in place because we are selling out this resource for a song,” said Brown, the most powerful bureaucrat in the Campbell government.

Brown said Clark made wildly unrealistic promises in the last election, including a $100-billion “LNG Prosperity Fund” that would wipe out the province’s entire debt. Two years later, with no LNG deals in place, Clark is desperate to deliver anything, Brown said. “The companies knew it — they had her over a barrel,” he said. “She had to make these concessions because she was so politically exposed on her promise to produce these LNG plants.” Such criticism by a former Liberal power broker must certainly sting. ~ The Province

Looks like continued higher debt and extremely low LNG revenue locked in for 25 years it is then.

Wow, what would you expect, when we put a Premier with a grade 12 diploma into a room to bargain with the world’s top executives in the LNG Industry? She got put over a barrel, and sold out our LNG to to them for a song.

Can SS be limited, maybe 5 posts a day or one per story? I am coming to this site lesss and less as every article turns into a Liberal bash or Harper bash by this paid troll.

At least keep it on the topic. This WAS a story regarding municipal govt. I too get tired of the Lib vs. NDP talk that overtakes every discussion.

True watchdog, I was responsible for steering the discussion towards the LIB vs. NDP subject, for that I apologize. I did try to get the discussion back on topic at 8:52 pm, however detoed44 continued to engage me in the LIB vs NDP debate.

I will try and restrain my utter contempt for both our provincial and federal governments and keep my researched comments about them to a more reasonable level going forward as I realize my comments are getting to the Gus level regarding comment volume.

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