McBride Council….What Now?
McBride, B.C.-The Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Peter Fassbender, says his Ministry team is working on the options available to deal with the situation in McBride, where three Councillors resigned on Friday, leaving the Village’s Mayor and remaining councillor unable to carry on business because they don’t have a quorum.
There are two provisions under the Community Charter for dealing with this kind of situation. One would be to give the remaining Mayor and Council the authority to move ahead until a by-election is called, the other would see the Province appoint representatives until a by-election can be held.
Minister Fassbender is not ready to say which option he will choose “In the meantime the remaining Councillor and Mayor along with the Administrator must ensure that residents continue to receive the services that they require” says Minister Fassbender “Any decisions that they make that would result in any future financial liabilities would be made by the Council once a by- election has been held and a quorum has been restored to the community.”
Although he is calling on the Mayor (Loranne Martin ) and remaining Councillor ( Rick Thompson) to ensure the residents continue to receive the services they require , that doesn’t mean he is giving the pair quorum status “I want the residents to know that the expectation is that the Mayor and the Councillor and the Administrator and staff in McBride will continue to provide the essential services that the community needs. They have the fiduciary duty to carry on, providing essential services, but they have to be careful that any commitments they make have liability associated with it in the future, so in the short term, I would hope the Mayor and remaining Councillor and the Administrator will continue to make sure that the water works, and that the sewer continues to operate and the other essential services (continue) that’s not an onerous task, it’s pretty clear what has to be done day in and day out.”
As for the long term? “I’m loath to make a commitment one way or the other at the moment until I get a briefing from my staff as to what those options are and what the elements of those are and what the commitment would be” says Fassbender.
The full briefing on the situation will include examining some letters which are being sent to him from former councillors and others in the community. Minister Fassbender can’t say when a decision will be made on the course of action “I can assure you that as soon as I am in a position to do something that is appropriate and maintains the stability in the community I will do that.”
Prince George Robson Valley MLA Shirley Bond says she too is concerned about restoring stability to the community “What I’m concerned about is growing the economy in McBride, looking at how we grapple with tough issues that exist in the Robson Valley. We need to have some stability there to do that. So while I’m not privy to the specific details, what matters most to me is that we figure out what the next steps are, make sure we’re supporting the community and then get down to business making sure we can support the community and the residents there.”
This is the second time in as many years, that the Ministry has had to take steps in a community because of a loss of quorum. In 2015, the District of Lantzville lost quorum when four councillors resigned. In that case the Minister issued an order so that the remaining members of the council constituted quorum until a by-election was held to fill the vacancies.