Court ruling makes waves for smaller municipalities

UBCM plans to meet with provincial officials to look at legislative solution

A recent court ruling on conflict of interest is starting to have consequences for community organizations, putting some elected officials in a tough spot.

During a Colwood council meeting on Feb. 25 Coun. Rob Martin had to leave the room for an agenda item related to West Shore Parks and Recreation

Society, for which Martin is the chair.

 

The Jan. 11 court decision states an elected official to be in a conflict of interest when voting on decisions related to a society of which they are a member.

Previously, elected officials were only perceived to be in a conflict of interest if voting on a motion from which they could benefit financially, directly or indirectly.

“From a council standpoint, we don’t want to put ourselves in a difficult position,” Martin said. “So you end up erring on the side of caution and we’re not able to do the work that actually should get done.”

Beyond that, councillors now can’t provide information to council on behalf of a board.

“We’re appointed by council to be on that (board) so that we can report back,” Martin said. “Council is now in a position that they’re not able to actually hear from their own board members about why financial decisions are being asked.”

Langford has three councillors on the West Shore Parks and Recreation board, who will now have to excuse themselves from related decisions. That leaves four people, the minimum needed for quorum, and all would have to vote unanimously for anything to pass.

Coun. Lanny Seaton, who sits on the WSPR board, said he and the others will remove themselves from financial decisions council makes in relation to the society. He said the ruling shouldn’t cause many problems for Langford, but sees potential problems for smaller communities.

“It kind of affects them more because there’s more societies,” Seaton said. “I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. The lawyers advised us not to do anything and that’s what we’re doing, we’re just not voting on anything to do with money.”

Al Richmond, third vice president for the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and chair of the Cariboo Regional District, said a number of elected officials are resigning from boards to avoid conflict of interest.

The case on which the decision is related, involving Islands Trust on Salt Spring Island, is a unique one, Richmond said, and he’s concerned to see its far-reaching implications.

“I don’t know how you draw the lines with what’s been done here,” Richmond said. “We’re sort of caught in the crossfire.”

He agreed communities where elected officials serve on more groups and societies will suffer.

“People in the smaller communities wear many different hats,” Richmond said. “Volunteer groups, non-profit groups are losing some very hardworking folks on some of their boards.”

Members of UBCM plan to meet with provincial officials to look at a potential solution at the legislative level. The executive and membership will have upcoming opportunities to discuss the issue and figure out further responses.

 

 

 

Just Posted

View Royal’s byelection results are in

The winner is Damian Kowalewich

Millstream Lake Road to close for repairs

No vehicle traffic will be permitted from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1

Royal Roads prof named to Rowing Canada’s Hall of Fame

Former Olympic rower still putting oars in the water

Local volunteers get the scoop on bat poop

Bat droppings key to research in a number of areas

Colwood development draws ire of residents

Developer says he’s listened and addressed residents’ concerns

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Mt. Washington offering freestyle programs

Programs include competitive, development and beginner levels

Start on time: Canucks looking to shake first-period struggles

Canucks centre Bo Horvat said the formula for getting a leg up is there for everyone to see

COMMUTER ALERT: Snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

Travelling this weekend? Check the forecasts before hitting the road

Drones take off to search for missing North Okanagan women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

Tips for keeping your personal data safe, from the experts

It’s important to keep your ‘online footprint’ safe

Lights to turn blue ahead of funeral for fallen Abbotsford police officer

Buildings across B.C. are going blue Saturday night in honour of Const. John Davidson

Ride-share pioneer drives up quietly to B.C. battleground

Lyft approaches B.C. without Uber bombast, eyes small towns

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Most Read