Port Alberni city councillor Rob Cole has broken the silence about the acrimony between council and Mayor John Douglas.
In a written notice circulated to local media, Coun. Rob Cole said leadership and team work—or lack of it—underpin the acrimony between Douglas and council.
“I have not seen any effort to correct or show a willingness to cooperate with council,” noted Cole, who added that the accusation applies to council conversations about ideas or project directions. “This at times has included meetings and public discussion with direct action controversial to the direction approved by council.”
After the meeting, Cole used the issue of council voting down $500,000 in Canal Beach improvements without a plan. “We made a decision as a council and he didn’t honour it,” Cole said. “Instead, he went to the media afterward and slammed our decision.”
Each councillor has had issues that they didn’t get support for. “But when council makes a decision then that is the decision and we respect it and move forward,” Cole said. “The mayor is the face and voice of the community yet he is the first not to follow that.”
Cole doesn’t dispute that council members have their own opinions about matters. But support for council direction must be unanimous once it is given. “This is fundamental to having a functional, operating city and greater community,” Cole said.
Cole said that he wasn’t prepared to get into specifics when asked about it at a previous council meeting. “But I feel it’s is important to now clarify what the issue is here.”
Cole didn’t spare fellow councillors in his rebuke of Douglas, saying that they need to put aside self interest for the greater good of the community. “Look at some of the comments in the media and they’re calculated; their election campaign started already.”
Douglas was ambivalent about Cole’s reproach of him. “I don’t want to get into the bickering back and forth between council,” Douglas said.
Douglas said he’s tried to get council to work as a team and accept decisions, like the one about him being mayor.
Regarding Canal Beach: “The media came to me and asked my opinion and I gave it,” he said. “I don’t know why councillor Cole is bringing this up because it’s a done issue.”
Douglas said Cole ran his written submission by him at the last minute, and that he hasn’t had a chance to study it in depth. “But I’m puzzled why he chose to write a scripted submission instead of coming to me in person and telling me what was on his mind.”
There’s nothing to be accomplished by discussing the matter further, Douglas said.
“I said my piece about how I felt last night [at the council meeting] and have moved ahead,” he said.
“I won’t offer any more comment. It’s not a particularly newsworthy item.”