City of Powell River Council has repealed its conflict of interest policy for committee members so its new community finance advisory committee members can bring a variety of interests to the table.
At the April 2 city council meeting, councillor Maggie Hathaway said the policy to be repealed included members of the public who were appointed to committees.
“In the report, it says that committee members were required to leave the meeting and not participate in discussions because they have a vested interest,” said Hathaway. “It appears to defeat the very purpose of why they were appointed to the committee.
“There are currently three select committees of council: the climate change mitigation and adaptation committee, emergency services facility select advisory committee and our newly formed community finance advisory committee. Council members are still covered by conflict under the provincial legislation. If we have a conflict, we must declare it but that won’t apply to members of the public appointed to these committees.”
Councillor George Doubt said this idea of dealing with the conflict of interest policy came as a result of discussion with mayor Dave Formosa, himself and staff regarding the community finance advisory committee. Doubt said if everyone was excluded from participating in the committee if they were dealing with things they had a personal interest in, they would be totally defeating the idea of the committee.
“The idea that the community finance advisory committee could get businesspeople, taxpayers and residents of the community to come in and talk to the city about what affects them personally, we need to have that input,” said Doubt. “We came up with the suggestion and discussed it at committee of the whole and other councillors thought we should perhaps widen this so that all the committees were affected in the same way.
“It frees up members who get appointed to these committees to voice their interests freely at a meeting, and council can make the tough decisions from that information, so I’m in favour of it.”
Councillor Rob Southcott said the recommendation is in the spirit of democracy and he supports the initiative wholeheartedly.