An apology from Mayor John Douglas wasn’t enough to persuade his council to reconsider letting him go to Ottawa.
Councillors had already turned down Douglas’s motion two weeks ago to allow him to go spend an extra $1,000 to go to Ottawa and lobby federal ministers while attending the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting in June.
On Monday, Douglas brought forward another motion asking council to reconsider. The second vote ended in a tie and therefore was defeated. Councillor Jack McLeman was absent.
“Do I feel affronted? I don’t know that I’d say that,” Douglas said after the meeting. “The council has made a judgment call in what they feel is in the best interest of the community and we’ve moved on.”
Earlier, Douglas apologized for his part in a confrontation that occurred between him and councillors on March 10 when he first made the request.
“There can be occasions when personal feelings get in the way of what is best for the community,” Douglas said. “This can come about because of our own strong passions for Port Alberni…”
Douglas fleshed out his most recent request in a bid to clarify his proposed visit to Ottawa.
He said in meetings with senior officials he wanted to discuss such issues as the Roger Creek second crossing, city infrastructure upgrades, the waterfront industrial road and a new aquatic centre.
The list is too broad and it tries to do too many things at once, Coun. Cindy Solda said after the meeting. “We need a specific agenda, a specific list of doable projects and a very specific plan.”
As well, instead of going it alone the right approach is to leverage the influence larger lobbying bodies such as the Union of BC Municipalities and Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, Solda said.
“There’s strength in numbers and working through them might produce better results.”
Councillor’s aren’t against sending Douglas anywhere, Solda said. Earlier, they voted in favour of sending Douglas to Vancouver for a civic governance conference in April.
The cost of the trip will be reimbursed by CUPE BC.
The $1,000 isn’t a good investment, said Coun. Hira Chopra, who also voted no. “For me it’s business – what are we getting back in return for that $1,000?” he said. “I don’t think he’d accomplish much on his own so I don’t think it’s a wise spending decision.”
Coun. Wendy Kerr disagreed with Chopra, saying that Port Alberni can get lost in the shuffle of larger bodies. “I supported the motion because I think he should be given the opportunity to go to Ottawa and speak for the people of Port Alberni,” she said. “A thousand dollars isn’t much when you think about it.”
Audience member Neil Anderson spoke during the public input period and asked councillors to support Douglas’ bid to go to Ottawa. Three letters in council’s agenda also supported the trip as well.