Lantzville’s ex-councillors aren’t really taking a stand – what they’re doing is standing up and walking away.
The District of Lantzville’s municipal hall fell into further turmoil this week as two councillors, Jennifer Millbank and Rod Negrave, resigned from their elected positions.
Neither was willing to crystallize reasons for quitting. Their letters of resignation list their grievances, but vaguely; Negrave didn’t elaborate much to the media; Millbank, not at all. It can be assumed that the resignations come from frustration with the district’s governance and Mayor Colin Haime’s leadership.
Certainly two councillors quitting, in concert, draws attention to the district’s obvious dysfunction, but unfortunately, that’s about all it accomplishes.
It could possibly compel the mayor and remaining councillors and staff toward co-operation and compromise, but it could also have the opposite effect – the loss of two dissenting views might only further centralize power on the other side of the table. The ex-councillors no longer have the same ability to bring their voices and their views to council chambers. Opposition views do have value in a democracy, however the vote goes.
Just because the ex-councillors didn’t like the workings of council doesn’t mean they were helpless and that the situation was hopeless. They, if anyone, had the power, as elected officials, to hold their peers accountable and speak up for what they felt was right. Instead of carrying on an important conversation, in a way, they’ve ended the conversation.
Taxpayers in Lantzville will be left to foot the bill for byelections and might not be any better off in the end. But it will be up to those taxpayers to have their say, and it’s important that the people speak up, because there are two fewer councillors, now, to speak for the people.