Minister orders council quorum in Lantzville

NANAIMO – Three remaining councillors given decision-making powers over municipality.

Decision-making power has been given to Lantzville’s last three politicians.

The district mayor and two councillors have been given the right to continue civic business by the B.C. government, forced to intervene after the majority of politicians quit and left council without enough members to legally make decisions.

Second-term councillor Graham Savage brought council to a grinding halt Monday, after he added his name to a recent exodus of elected officials and senior managers. The resignation dropped the seven-member council below quorum, a move the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development can’t recall happening anywhere else.

Since April, Lantzville has seen the resignation of its chief administrative officer, who left amid staff concerns of tone and decorum at council meetings. Jedha Holmes, director of financial services, and councillors Jennifer Millbank, Rod Negrave and David Scott have also quit.

Council is like a rudderless ship, said Scott in his resignation letter, adding he hasn’t been able to determine the direction it’s heading.

Savage called the last six months on council one of the worst and most negative experiences of his personal working and volunteer life and wants to see the provincial inspector of municipalities become involved in remediation.

He’s not interested in pointing fingers, but said the community has to heal and move on.

“The only way to make it move better I think is for somebody to interject and new people get elected,” he said. “The four people who were around the table [Monday], we can’t fix this issue. A lot of it is interaction, trust, behaviours.”

Mayor Colin Haime told the News Bulletin that Savage gave more concrete reasons than other councillors and made it understood that the mayor is the reason behind the resignations.

“The commonality amongst all of the individuals that have resigned is that they opposed my election as mayor,” said Haime, who adds it’s not a question of leadership, but that four people are upset with the choice residents made last November.

He thanks Community Minister Coralee Oakes for supporting the remaining council, which she’s ordered to constitute a quorum until vacant seats are filled in a byelection.

The minister was not available for comment and it’s unknown when a byelection will be held. A staff report previously indicated people could head to the polls this August.