2014-12-06: Port Moody council inaugural meeting

New council sworn in
But port moody event marred by postponed vote
Jeremy Deutsch / Tri-Cities Now
December 5, 2014 12:00 AM

As far as inaugurations go, the one for the newly elected Port Moody city council on Tuesday didn’t go quite as planned.

At a ceremony at the Inlet Theatre, all six councillors and Mayor Mike Clay were sworn in for their four-year terms. However, a clerical error meant a vote to pick the city’s representative on Metro Vancouver and the acting mayor for December was postponed. The meeting to decide the two positions was scheduled for yesterday (Thursday), after the Tri-Cities NOW’s deadline.

The inaugural event was also an opportunity for the mayor to reflect on the last term and touch on a vision for the new one.

Clay said what he’s heard clearly from residents is they’re happy with their quality of life in Port Moody, and most are excited about changes coming with the introduction of SkyTrain. He noted some residents are concerned the Evergreen Line will have negative impacts on their way of life. Some are also concerned about how growth will be accommodated and the potential loss of the city’s character, he said, adding how the official community plan is implemented will be critical.

Clay said council is committed to managing change responsibly, addressing concerns around development, congestion, park space and protecting local businesses.

“We need to remember, when Newport Village, Klahanie and Suter Brook were built, there were many concerns with the effect this new development would have on our city,” he said.

“This was dramatic change for our city, as we moved from mostly single-family residential housing to higher-density condos and townhouses. Now we have many residents living in Port Moody who were attracted here by those developments, and how we have integrated growth while maintaining our connection to our natural environment.”

The mayor also said council will continue to work on a zoning bylaw regarding house size and siting, and work regionally on transportation and traffic issues. The inauguration was also a chance for a final thankyou and farewell to outgoing councillors Bob Elliott, Gerry Nuttall and Rosemary Small.

“It was a pleasure to serve with you over the past term, and I appreciate your support on my first term as mayor,” Clay said.

Returning councillors sworn in Tuesday include Diana Dilworth, Rick Glumac and Zoe Royer, along with newcomers Barbara Junker, Meghan Lahti and Rob Vagramov.


Port Moody council backs mayor for Metro Vancouver appointment
by Sarah Payne – The Tri-City News
posted Dec 4, 2014 at 4:00 PM— updated Dec 5, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Port Moody council voted 6-1 to back Mayor Mike Clay for the city’s Metro Vancouver board of directors appointment.

The decision was made at a special council meeting on Thursday. It had been arranged after Tuesday’s inaugural meeting, at which the new council voted not to discuss the two agenda items because staff had not met the statutory obligation to post notice of the meeting 24 hours beforehand.

After being officially sworn in the new council was to have appointed a municipal director to the Metro Vancouver board and to amend the city’s acting mayor schedule for December (the existing schedule called for former councillors Bob Elliott and Rosemary Small to fill in as first and second acting mayor, respectively).

But second-term councillors Zoe Royer and Rick Glumac and rookie Rob Vagramov voted against the motion, delaying the two-item agenda for a future meeting.

However, Metro Vancouver requires the appointment information — which, while not required, is traditionally the mayor — no later than Tuesday, Dec. 9, but council’s next scheduled meeting isn’t until that evening.

On Thursday, the new council met behind closed doors with staff before opening the meeting to the public. Six of the 15 people who attended stood up to speak during the public input period, with most expressing concerns that the mayor had hidden information about the lawsuit filed by Metro Vancouver over PoMo’s official community plan.

(Metro Vancouver has filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court stating the OCP is contrary to provincial legislation, particularly the regional context statement, which Metro has not accepted because of the proposed land use switch from industrial to general urban at the Andres Wines and Mill and Timber sites.)

Those who spoke against the mayor’s appointment to the Metro Vancouver board suggested there was a lack of transparency in how the lawsuit came to light, and that Clay should have informed council about it sooner.

But when it came time for council to discuss the matter, Coun. Meghan Lahti said she confirmed with Metro Vancouver’s legal department that staff knew of the lawsuit on Nov. 13, when they received the petition, and that Clay was not present when the matter was discussed at Metro’s board meeting in October.

Lahti suggested that another councillor, whom she did not name, had sent an email to residents “stating information that is untrue or at least leading people down that path.”

She noted that the city manager, Kevin Ramsay, then sought legal advice on the matter before notifying council of the lawsuit.

“The question of whether [Clay] has been forthright has been answered, and I feel very confident so I will be supporting the motion,” Lahti said.

Coun. Royer, the lone member to vote against Clay’s appointment to the board — and wife of Gaetan Royer, whom Clay defeated in the recently mayor’s race — questioned why the previous council adopted the OCP on Oct. 14, knowing Metro Vancouver was likely to respond with “some type of legal action… to me it’s completely unnerving that we would gamble in this way.”

Coun. Diana Dilworth emphasized it was a decision of the majority of council to adopt the OCP, not the mayor’s alone.

(Councillors Royer and Glumac voted against adopting the OCP on Oct. 14.)

“To target our mayor is very unfortunate… I was a member of the council that supported the OCP and at no time did I feel there was an issue with transparency,” she said.

Clay said he was bothered by the “character attacks” and took aim at those who stated he had withheld information, saying they didn’t have all the facts.

He also responded to criticism from Glumac, who had initiated an amendment to the Metro Vancouver appointment motion that the appointee be required to share information with council on a monthly basis, saying pertinent issues coming from Metro board meetings are shared on council’s agendas as discussion items and as correspondence included with the package.

“Please don’t insinuate I’m not bringing anything back to council,” Clay said. “I bring information to council at every meeting and, as I said, Metro reports back with the Board in Brief after every single board meeting, and that goes to every single councillor, and anything that’s significant for Port Moody, I take immediately to the city manager to put on the agenda.”

BACKGROUND [initial article]

Print edition headline: “A mistake and a vote delay a vote”

As per a reader’s request, below is the original story on this issue, which went to press on the afternoon of Dec. 4, before the special council meeting referred to in the story above was held:

Port Moody’s inaugural council meeting hit a snag Tuesday (Dec. 2) when it came time to vote on the two-item agenda.

Staff had neglected to post the meeting’s agenda in a public place the required 24 hours ahead of time, said city clerk Kelly Ridley, although the error was rectified immediately on Tuesday morning.

Ridley noted the meeting could proceed with a unanimous vote of council to waive notice, as per the Community Charter, the provincial legislation that governs municipal affairs.

The first item on the agenda for the new council was to appoint a municipal director to the Metro Vancouver board and the second was to amend the city’s acting mayor schedule for December (the existing schedule called for former councillors Bob Elliott and Rosemary Small to fill in as first and second acting mayor, respectively).

But second-term councillors Zoe Royer and Rick Glumac and rookie Rob Vagramov voted against the motion, delaying the two-item agenda for a future meeting.

However, Metro Vancouver requires the appointment information no later than Tuesday, Dec. 9 — and council’s next scheduled meeting isn’t until that evening.

(A special council meeting, with a public input period added, was arranged for Thursday at 5 p.m., after The Tri-City News’ print deadline, to deal with the agenda items. Go to tricitynews.com for coverage of the outcome of that meeting.)

“It was a little surprising I think,” said Mayor Mike Clay, noting it was unfortunate for city staff, who were already “very embarrassed” about the error.

Clay said the city’s lawyer advised him the meeting could have proceeded without the motion to waive notice but since he believed doing so might contravene council’s procedural bylaw, he put the matter up for a vote.

Clay acknowledged that it’s “pretty rare” for council to waive the required notice, “but if all seven of us are in the room and something needs to get done, it would be quite ordinary. This was just a technical confusion.”

Glumac and Vagramov said they voted against the motion because they didn’t feel statutory notice should be waived and because of concerns about the Metro Vancouver appointment, but neither were concerned about submitting it after the deadline.

Glumac referred to emails that expressed concern over the potential appointment, which, while not required, is traditionally the mayor, and that there should be public input on the matter (although there is not usually public input into council appointments).

Vagramov said he had received up to six emails with similar concerns and made his decision after considering the perspective of residents who may learn after the meeting that council had “used some kind of trick to sidestep the law.”

“It isn’t an issue if nothing significant is going on at the meeting,” he said, “but in this case, it’s a contentious issue, and I didn’t know it was contentious until the public started reaching out to me.”

Vagramov, who was elected to council for the first time in the Nov. 15 civic election, said initially he understood the mayor’s appointment to the Metro Vancouver board was a “no-brainer” but concerns from the public prompted him to give the matter more thought.

The other councillor to vote against holding the meeting, Zoe Royer, did not return calls for comment by The Tri-City News before the print deadline.

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