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City of Powell River okays working group to meet with Tla'amin

Council wants to hold intergovernmental meetings with elected officials
DEVELOP TERMS: City of Powell River councillor Trina Isakson brought forward a motion to establish a working group with elected officials from the city and Tla’amin Nation to work on matters of mutual interest.

City of Powell River councillors have endorsed the establishment of an intergovernmental working group of councillors to meet with elected representatives of Tla’amin Nation.

At the April 18 city council meeting, councillor Trina Isakson brought forward a motion that council appoint councillors Earl Almeida, George Doubt and herself to an intergovernmental protocol working group intended to gather regularly with elected representatives from Tla’amin, with an initial purpose to develop a terms of reference for such a working group, including working on recommendations to update the community accord protocols, to be brought back to city council for deliberation and potential adoption.

Isakson said this is part of trying to find a way forward that will have success.

“In having a working group, it allows a small group of individuals to get together and not make any decisions on behalf of council, but do some brainstorming and try to work toward something to be brought back to both parties to deliberate and vote on,” said Isakson. “Ideally, a working group is set up in a way that the meetings will get called, both parties will attend, discussion will happen, and the outcomes of those discussions will be brought back to council and reported back in an accurate way.”

Mayor Ron Woznow asked Isakson, when she talked with Tla’amin hegus John Hackett regarding this issue, what was his position on the need and value of this type of motion going forward.

Isakson said the discussion was not very long and thorough, but in brainstorming potential ways to move forward, this is something she proposed as an option, and Hackett thought it was potentially a good idea.

Woznow asked Isakson what barriers did she see that would impede city chief administrative officer Lisa Bhopalsingh in setting up any type of dialogue with staff or elected officials.

Isakson said her understanding was staff members already do meet. As for elected officials, council has not given staff direction to set up meetings with a small number of councillors.

Councillor George Doubt said he supports the resolution.

“When you have two sides that are not talking, if it’s a family matter, community matter or intergovernmental matter, it’s a good idea to get them talking,” said Doubt.

Councillor Jim Palm said when the matter was first discussed at committee of the whole, Isakson was asked if she consulted with Woznow in regard to the matter and the answer was she had not. Palm said she was also asked if staff had been consulted and Palm said he believed Isakson made them aware.

“I have to credit you for your due diligence,” said Palm.

Doubt said it is in the best interest of the city to have a good corporate relationship with Tla’amin and qathet Regional District.

“That’s not happening right now,” said Doubt. “It’s within the ability of staff and the mayor to get this going, but it hasn’t happened. We need to do something to make it happen. This has an impact on the economic development of the city.

“The value in this motion is it gets a working group together to have heart-to-heart meetings in a good way to try to find a protocol so we can explain how those meetings are going to happen. It’s a good way to reach out to our neighbours and work together.”

Councillor Cindy Elliott said the working group is mentioned in the Community Accord with Tla’amin as a way to move forward when needed.

“The status quo of where we are sitting today is not particularly good,” said Elliott. “We need to do something to change that. I’m willing to try this.”

Palm said the working group would create more division and distrust in the community from the residents of Powell River.

Council passed the motion, with Palm opposed.

When asked by the Peak during question period about his exclusion from the working group, Woznow said he has 35 years of experience in dealing with First Nations across Canada.

“It would be the norm that the senior elected official from the government that was proposing an initiative would be involved,” said Woznow. “I put that forward and council, as a majority, feels otherwise.”

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