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Council has no public resolution

Mayor Stewart Alsgard calls request to hold special council meeting frivolous and vexatious
Laura Walz

City of Powell River council had no resolution to bring forward in public following a special council meeting held on Tuesday, November 15.

Donald Lidstone, of Lidstone and Company, told members of the public who had remained at city hall waiting for the in-camera portion of the meeting to end that council had nothing to bring forward.

On November 11, six councillors signed a letter addressed to Mayor Stewart Alsgard requesting that he call a special council meeting. The letter listed three items to be discussed, including “alleged breaches of confidentiality by the mayor of the City of Powell River.”

At the special council meeting, Alsgard said that Councillor Debbie Dee handed him an envelope after Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Royal Canadian Legion. When Alsgard returned home and opened the envelope, he discovered it contained a cheque for Dee’s election campaign. Soon after, Dee called to tell him she had delivered the wrong envelope. She went to his house and delivered the letter from the councillors.

Alsgard read out a letter he had written in response to the councillors’ letter. The first part of the letter explained proper procedure for calling a special council meeting. Then Alsgard addressed the “alleged breaches of confidentiality.”

“It is fundamental to our system of natural justice that the accused be provided with the alleged offences committed and the identify of the accuser. To that end, I require that the signatories to the November 11, 2011 letter provide me with the information in your possession relating to the nature of the alleged breaches of confidentiality and the identity of the person making these allegations.

“You are each put on notice that I consider your action to be very serious.”

Alsgard also insisted that the meeting be open to the public and asked that the information requested and a response to his questions be provided to him before 4 pm on Sunday, November 13. “Should you decide not to continue with this frivolous and vexatious action, I require that you advise me by 16:00, Sunday, November 13, 2011,” the letter stated.

“I have not been provided with basically anything,” Alsgard said. “In this particular instance, the question really is who is alleging what and if there’s anyone sitting at this table who has done so, I would be pleased to hear it.”

Alsgard then attempted to place the issue on the agenda, under New Business, but since there had already been a mover and a seconder to adopt the agenda, it would have required unanimous consent of council to add it.

After a discussion involving the procedure for adopting the agenda, during which some members of the audience interjected comments and Lidstone explained procedure, council voted to adopt the agenda as it was.

Alsgard next made a motion to add it to the agenda. “I want this as such in public,” he said.

Councillor Dave Formosa seconded Alsgard’s motion, then council discussed whether they should have the meeting in public, since it involved both a personnel issue and legal advice. The motion was eventually defeated, with Alsgard voting in opposition.

Council then voted to go in camera. One audience member called out, “This is a lynch mob,” then the audience members began to chant, “Shame, shame, shame.”

Alsgard announced that he would not be attending the in-camera meeting.

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