Tilbury won’t run in fall election

Councillor leaves to work in private sector, but still unhappy with CRMG slate.

Nelson Tilbury

Mission Coun. Nelson Tilbury has announced that he won’t run in the municipal election this fall, citing family and work commitments as key reasons. And as he prepares to leave politics, he is firing back at his fellow councillors on the Citizens for Responsible Municipal Government (CRMG) political team.

Tilbury was elected for the first time in 2011 under the CRMG slate that dominated the polls.

Less than a year later, Tilbury left the CRMG, saying he wanted to feel comfortable expressing opposing views.

Earlier this year, councillors Tony Luck, Jeff Jewell and Jenny Stephens followed Tilbury’s lead and resigned from the CRMG slate, following a potential conflict of interest controversy involving another councillor and a lease in a downtown building that ultimately divided the council as it voted on whether to refer the matter to B.C. Supreme Court. Council later received a legal opinion that found that such an application would likely fail because there was no “clear and obvious” case.

In February, the ex-CRMG councillors passed a motion expressing a “lack of confidence” in Mayor Ted Adlem.

In April, The Record reported that nine senior managers had left the district over the previous two and a half years, and as Tilbury leaves council, he remains concerned about working conditions at the District of Mission.

“There’s a morale issue that’s really bad,” Tilbury told The Record this week. “It’s not a really fun place to work.”

Tilbury was also displeased by a recent newsletter distributed to Mission homes by the CRMG.

In a written statement to The Record, he took offence at the newsletter’s assertion that he and other departed councillors left the slate because they “became more interested in their own political future than Mission’s.”

Tilbury said council’s dealings with a proposed First Avenue pharmacy prompted his resignation. In 2012, months after a company purchased a downtown property with the understanding a pharmacy was a permitted use, council passed a bylaw prohibiting pharmacies in the downtown core, according to court documents. (Tilbury and Stephens voted against the bylaw, with Tilbury calling the change morally wrong.) The company launched legal action, alleging the district acted “unlawfully and in bad faith withheld issuance of the building permit.” Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the company.

“Suggesting that I resigned to further my political career is crap,” Tilbury wrote to The Record. “Has resigning furthered my political career? No. I wanted to be a part of an organization that was interested in lowering taxes, good money management and fostering a previously neglected business community..”

Tilbury wrote that he wasn’t comfortable with the way CRMG was run.

“When someone is placed in a position which compromises their moral and ethical standards, and cannot through communication, dialogue nor discussion resolve the issue, that individual has little choice but to step away.”

While he won’t be campaigning for a spot on council this fall, Tilbury said he will “try to hold [the CRMG slate’s] feet to the fire during the election.

“There are a few things that they need to account for.”

That said, Tilbury said he still feels positive about his time on council.

“It’s been an honour to have worked for the people of Mission,” he said.  “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Tilbury had been retired, but recently returned to work as a master mechanic on heavy equipment. He said his time has been squeezed ever since.

“To keep doing two jobs, my day starts at 4:30 in the morning and ends at 10 at night,” he said. “My wife wants me back and so do my kids.”