Since the election in November 2011, many issues have continued to dog the Central Coast Regional District, and most of them remain unaddressed. Undoubtedly, many Valley residents are wondering about the performance of their Board of Directors, the administrative efficiency of the office, and which, if any, local issues are actually receiving attention.
As of December 2011, there have been 11 Board meetings. There has not been a single meeting where all three Bella Coola Valley elected Directors were present. Only one local Director (Area C Director and Board Chair Brian Lande) has been in attendance at all 11 meetings.
Area E Director David Anderson has attended only four meetings (one by phone), while his Alternate Director Sam Schooner has attended more than him, at five meetings. Area D Director Ivan Tallio has attended only three meetings, and none of those have been since July. His Alternate Director, Archie Pootlass, has also attended three meetings.
The Local Government Act states that a Director cannot miss more than four meetings in a row (even if the meetings are attended by his/her Alternate), but any attempt to unseat a Director based on this fact requires a resolution supported by two-thirds of the Board, or a petition from 10 or more electors. Such action has not yet been taken.
While the Local Government Act sanctions the use of Alternates, the intention of an Alternate is to fill in for a Director only when absolutely necessary. Alternates are not elected, and despite the fact that they may be capable individuals, their attendance does not absolve the elected Directors of their responsibilities.
The CCRD’s own policy documents state that, “The present Board consists of only five Directors. A missing Director at any Board meeting diminishes public representation and the quality of decision-making.”
With the current gross lack of attendance of Directors at Board meetings, it is difficult to see how any governing business can be accomplished.
In an attempt to get a sense of how Bella Coola Valley-elected Directors felt about their own performance in this regard, the Coast Mountain News posed two simple questions to all three Directors: What have you accomplished, as a Director and as a Board, over the past year? What specific issues would you like to make progress on in the coming year?
Director Anderson was contacted twice by phone and once by email. During a lengthy phone conversation, he nonetheless chose to ‘refrain from making any statement’ on the questions. Director Tallio was also contacted twice by phone and once by email, but, as of press time, no response of any kind had been received.
Director Lande did make himself available to answer the questions, and said his main priority over the past year has been to listen to concerns of his constituents in regards to the flood risk in the upper Valley.
“I have met with a number of residents and connected with the Nusatsum Working Group to hear about flood-related concerns,” Lande said. “Generally, I have been networking with people in the upper Valley, but not a lot of headway has been made on the issue.”
Lande said that, as a Board, one project that has been accomplished is the establishment of infrastructure for water service on Denny Island. Locally, the swimming pool was made operational this year, and the Board has been hearing the Nuxalk Nation’s concerns about sewage treatment options for the townsite.
As for specific issues in the upcoming year, Lande was hopeful that diking at the airport would proceed but was not optimistic, as the Board has not made a decision on the referendum that would have to precede such a major project.
Lande stated that he believes the community views the Board’s current state as ‘dysfunctional,’ adding that, in his 17 years on the Board, he has never experienced such dissention amongst Board members.
The problems at the CCRD Board office are presently magnified by the instability in the administrative department. In the absence of the Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Financial Officer Donna Mikkelson has been acting in that position. However, she is set to leave that acting position and Chair Lande has confirmed that the Board is currently seeking a suitable replacement to fill the CAO position.
Our community is facing a multitude of important challenges, and it is up to our local, elected representatives to work in the public interest, to ensure local government is managed efficiently, and to communicate with their constituents – which is all of us.
Do you feel that our community has been properly served by our CCRD Directors during the first year of their mandate? Do you have concerns with the administrative functioning of the CCRD and with the issues that have or have not been addressed? You can contact the CCRD directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or make a submission to the Coast Mountain News at any time.