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Censured Peachland councillor not able to get his message out at council meeting

Peachland Coun. Pete Coolio
Image Credit: Facebook/Pete Coolio
August 15, 2021 - 6:00 AM

District of Peachland Coun. Pete Coolio tried to defend the actions that got him censured by fellow councillors last month but was stifled by Mayor Cindy Fortin.

It happened during a heated discussion at Tuesday’s council meeting when the censure that had been issued at an in camera meeting in July was brought into the open session.

At issue was a June meeting where Coolio, a realtor, apparently tried to convince the district’s CAO, Joe Mitchell, to authorize a deck for a house he was involved in selling. That was considered inappropriate behavior by other councillors.

READ MORE: Peachland mayor wants censured councillor to resign

“The whole controversy has been founded on the premise that building permits are difficult to get,” Coolio said during Tuesday’s council meeting.

He said the discussion with Mitchell had to do with how to respond to constituents who complained about how long it took to get permits and there was a pleasant exchange of emails between the two men after the meeting. Mitchell resigned shortly after the meeting. He hasn't said why, but Fortin suggested the meeting was a part of his decision.

“It was a lovely meeting as far as I could tell,” Coolio said. “I had no indications anything was wrong until the allegations and mayor’s report that was posted online.”

“Joe’s a really nice guy,” Coolio added. “I’m a really nice guy, too. I thought our meeting was really positive.”

When Coolio starting bringing up previous incidents with staff, Fortin cut him off.

“Coun. Coolio, can you stick to the actions that we are here for,” Fortin said. “That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to talk about this. Not other things.”

When Coolio was allowed to speak again, he talked about understanding bylaws and dealing with the district’s “terrific” staff.

Fortin cut him off again.

“You can’t go on forever,” she said. “You’ve got to give everyone else a chance to speak.”

That comment came despite the fact that, at the beginning of the meeting, Coolio asked for other councillors to speak first.

At one point, Coun. Patrick Van Minsel called a point of order, saying Coolio had the floor and should be allowed to speak.

“I get to decide on points of order,” Fortin shot back. “He’s going off topic on a bunch of things that aren’t pertinent to this. So I don’t accept that point of order. I know you’re good friends and allies, so I understand why you’re doing that.”

In the end, council agreed that the censure would be accepted and that Fortin would write a letter of apology, on behalf of council, to Mitchell.

Last month, Coolio had been ordered by council to write an apology to Mitchell, which he did. But, Fortin said that it was too “skinny” and Mitchell deserved more than five words of apology.

"I don't believe that arguing about this in the media is the best thing for the community," Coun. Coolio said in a voice mail message after iNFOnews.ca offered him the opportunity to tell his side.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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