'Failure of leadership': Vernon council motion about committee appointments spurs lively debate | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'Failure of leadership': Vernon council motion about committee appointments spurs lively debate

File photo. City of Vernon councillor Scott Anderson.
December 15, 2020 - 2:00 PM

A move by Vernon city councillor Kari Gares, which she said would "encourages fairness" and limit "the perception of personal bias" by limiting the amount of time elected officials could sit on more than 30 committees, has been defeated.

Vernon council quashed Coun. Gares motion in a four against three vote following a lengthy debate at its Dec. 14 meeting.

Coun. Gares put forward the motion in November, hours after the committee and board appointments were made – and she got none of the prominent files.

While the numerous committees mean little to the public and get scant attention, who gets what, in many ways reflects the inner workings of council and the dynamics that exist between the politicians. It could be said that sitting favourably with the mayor scores a councillor a more interesting file.

In support of her motion, Coun. Gares said rotating committee positions would allow councillors to “grow” in their role and learn all aspects of the job. She stressed her motion was not about the current appointments or the current mayor but about “potential faults in the system.”

She argued rotating the terms would bring fairness and proposed limiting the committee sittings to two-year terms.

“Are we building the best team we possibly can? Or are we building the team that matches our viewpoints?” Coun. Gares said. “That’s not the best team, that’s a team that could be… potentially complacent.”

Coun. Gares highlighted the position of Coun. Scott Anderson who has never sat on the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee and the Regional District of North Okanagan - the two most prestigious files.

“He’s a second-term councillor and is yet to sit on any of those committees,” she said.

Councillor Anderson didn’t mince his words when addressing the meeting.

“I see this as a failure of leadership,” Coun. Anderson said.

Coun. Brian Quiring saw it a different way.

“You’re not happy you didn’t get a turn, and Coun. Gares isn’t happy she didn’t get a turn,” Coun. Quiring said.

Coun. Anderson replied, “This is not about us.”

“You did though make this about you… and I don’t blame you for a second that you’re frustrated,” Coun. Quiring replied.

Contrary to Coun. Gares comments Coun. Quiring said he wasn’t elected to learn all aspects of all the City's files.

“I think I was elected because I have a specific skill set, and enhance council… I don’t think it’s the objective of the citizens that I understand everything,” he said.

Coun. Quiring suggested watering down the motion and to exclude the Regional District and the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee, but Coun. Gares refused.

“I can’t water it down,” she said. “This matters to me, I won’t change it.”

Mayor Victor Cumming, who stayed largely quiet throughout the discussion, said it was his role to bring a list of committee recommendations and he would continue to do so.

Coun. Quiring also pointed out council had unanimously passed the appointments put forward by the mayor.

“Why did we all vote in favour of the appointments if we weren’t happy?” he said. “Next time we need to be a little more vocal.”

Ultimately the notice of motion failed, with Mayor Cumming, together with councillors Quiring, Akbal Mund and Kelly Fehr voting against changing the system, while councillors Gares and Anderson along with Coun. Dalvir Nahal voting in favour.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 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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