Criticism over the flow of information from administration to council, and from council to the community created an uncomfortable stir at the July 13 district committee of the whole meeting.
Criticism began to flow when Mayor Malcolm MacLeod took Coun. Lynn Miller to task for comments she made in the July 6 Eagle Valley News. In a story on who would be looking at running again in the November municipal election, Miller expressed concern over what hasn’t been accomplished in the community, and said she was frustrated over the public not having avenues to provide input, such as committees.
In response, MacLeod named off a list of successes, as well as works in progress. Among these are the district’s work on acquiring the former CN railway line along Mara and attracting a gateway provincial tourism facility.
“What is really amazing is the completion of this district hall…,” said MacLeod. “We received one of the largest grants in the province for our sewer. Council has been able to keep no tax increase to most of our residents in town.”
As for committees, MacLeod said he had been informed by former committee chairs that there was no need for them.
Miller responded with criticism on how information is being passed down to council, arguing that council, and the public, isn’t receiving all it should.
“I’m sorry, but I’ve really got to tell you, this is really the saddest council I’ve been on…,” said Miller. “I think it’s very unfair that you’re asking us to do everything with no committees to ever hear all the background – we just get what you presented this week.”
Couns. Jerry Silva and Don Richardson said they are satisfied with the current leadership and administration. However, both agreed more of an effort could be made to keep council informed.
“Whether or not committees are the answer to it, I really don’t know. I could use perhaps a little more information than I’m getting, but I’m not going to say we’re doing everything wrong,” said Silva.
In an interview following the meeting, Miller, who has served five terms on council and has indicated she will be seeking a sixth, said she felt bad for the newer councillors who are unfamiliar with how things used to be done.
“To me, as the committee of the whole, and the planning thing especially, you could ask all the questions you wanted, sitting down at the table and writing down notes, and this way that doesn’t happen – you get the report and that seems to be the end of it.”
Miller brought up the recent Sturgis North event in Sicamous as an example of a decision made without prior discussion/input by council.
“There was never a discussion and all of a sudden Malcolm walks in and says, ‘Well, I’ve invited them here,’” says Miller. “Excuse me! I’m not trying to be a jerk, but wait a minute. If you were considering this before you invited them, don’t you think you should have run that by council beforehand?”
Asked for comment, MacLeod said his comments at the committee meeting were all he had to say on the matter, adding that Miller was “just wrong.”