EDITORIAL: Lesson offered for public bodies

Greater Victoria Harbour authority board controversy shows public organizations must remember who they serve

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority’s hesitation to accept Victoria Coun. Shellie Gudgeon to its board of directors, and her eventual acceptance after public backlash, bring up a couple of points.

The Harbour Authority, a non-profit society, was rightfully forced to eat crow after initially questioning the city’s nomination of a publicly elected official, citing Gudgeon’s apparent lack of appropriate skill set. It was technically able to reject the nomination under its society bylaws, but the move came off as arrogant and undemocratic.

The scenario should offer a lesson to members of any public body, whether political or societal, to be mindful of how they view that body’s place and role in the community. The public expects to have at least some say in the workings of organizations that are funded in part by tax dollars and/or manage community spaces.

In the case of the Harbour Authority, its board meets just four times a year, not every week or even every month. That would indicate decisions made by directors are more broad-based and centred around policy rather than related to day-to-day operational challenges that may come up.

Newcomers to municipal councils, or boards or committees with a specific mandate, always face a learning curve as they research issues and get up to speed on any technical aspects of the position. No doubt the longest-tenured members of the authority’s board have learned a lot about the ins and outs of a working harbour.

The Harbour Authority had hoped for more representation from Victoria. But like any public body with representation from the greater community, the GVHA has to trust that nominations are made with due consideration of its needs and mandate.

Organizations that steward public assets must always remember whom they serve, and as such, should regularly allow for the injection of fresh perspectives from the community at large.

Doing so provides better accountability and helps ensure public sentiment is considered during all boardroom conversations.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Greater Victoria thrift shop quietly closes two locations indefinitely

Society of St. Vincent de Paul shut down Sooke and Central Saanich storefronts

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Greater Victoria

Thunderstorm may produce strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy rain, warns Environment Canada

Sooke couple that owned Sooke Harbour House given $4 million after lengthy court case

B.C. Supreme Court rules in favour of Frederique and Sinclair Philip

Local MP Elizabeth May likes aspects of throne speech, but questions execution

According to May nobody is as ‘reckless’ as BC’s John Horgan in dismissing snap election

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Most Read