Vernon mayor went rogue on council letter, councillor says - InfoNews

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Vernon mayor went rogue on council letter, councillor says

City of Vernon councillor Scott Anderson.
May 12, 2020 - 5:00 PM

"It's going to be a touchy subject," Vernon councillor Kari Gares said before raising an issue at council's May 11 meeting.

And she wasn't wrong.

Coun. Gares question sparked a heated discussion between Coun. Scott Anderson and Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming, which ended with the mayor shutting down the debate, and refusing to give Anderson more time to speak on the issue.

"I would like to make the point that I've been shut down here," Anderson told the meeting. Looking frustrated and red in the face, the councillor then left the meeting for a short break.

"We can all say more on the topic, I could say more on it," the mayor said.

While Vernon council often vigorously debate and vote upon issues affecting the city, this hotly contested issue was not a voting matter.

The reason for the debate stems from a motion put forward by Anderson two weeks earlier requesting a letter be sent to the province asking for a timeline of when the economy will be reopened.

According to Anderson the letter that was ultimately sent did not reflect the motion.

"(The mayor) did not ask the question he was authorized to ask and he said all sorts of stuff he wasn't authorized to ask," Anderson told "The mayor can't just go off and say, on behalf of council, and say whatever he wants."

On April 27, several hours after council voted unanimously on the motion, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry released information about how the province would start to reopen, making the motion redundant.

"It didn't make any sense to send them a letter when they'd already indicated there was a (timeline)," Mayor Cumming said. "We had our answer already... I felt it was astute and politically sharp to not fire a shot across the bow."

The mayor's response didn't sit well with Anderson who quoted from the community charter saying the letter had to "reflect the will of council."

The mayor reiterated the motion was a moot point.

"But that doesn't negate the fact that the intent of the councillor was not followed through," Gares said.

Gares said the letter didn't focus on what Vernon residents and small businesses were going through because of the pandemic and that there was only one small paragraph referring to the economy.

The mayor's letter also seemed to generate a fair amount of confusion.

"When I first read it I didn't think it was the letter we actually authorized the mayor to write on behalf of ourselves," Coun. Akbal Mund said. 

Coun. Brian Quiring put it down to "bad timing" and seemed unconcerned saying the motion was a moot point.

"Maybe next time the mayor can send it to us," Coun. Dalvir Nahal told the meeting. "It's a lesson learnt."

Coun. Kelly Fehr pointed out the motion could have waited two weeks and been brought back onto the agenda.

"I thought the letter the mayor sent was great," he said.

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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