Mission councillors Jeff Jewell and Jenny Stevens have resigned from the political slate under which all current councillors and the mayor were elected in 2011. They join Coun. Nelson Tilbury as independent councillors at the district table. Tilbury left the Citizens for Responsible Municipal Government (CRMG) in September 2011.
In a public statement, Jewell said that “recent issues have created considerable controversy and tension” at council. (Full statements below.)
Earlier this month, Coun. Nelson Tilbury suggested that Coun. Dave Hensman may have been in a conflict of interest for holding a lease in a building nearby the former Buy Low building on Welton Street, which was purchased by the district in December, as part of a downtown revitalization initiative. Hensman was part of a unanimous council vote to approve that purchase.
At last week’s district council meeting, Tilbury motioned to refer the matter to B.C. Supreme Court. Tilbury, Jewell, Stevens, and Coun. Tony Luck voted in favour, with Hensman, Coun. Larry Nundal and Mayor Ted Adlem against.
The motion failed because two-thirds majority were required by law.
FUTURE OF CRMG?
All current city councillors came to power under the banner of the CRMG in 2011. They pooled campaign resources and presented a united front to the electorate, which catapulted the individual candidates into victory.
The next district election is scheduled for Nov. 2014.
With three of seven councillors off the CRMG team, it is unclear what role the group still plays.
“I’m just sitting back and analyzing this whole thing myself and find out where we went off the rails,” said Luck in a discussion with the Record.
Luck had an inkling that Jewell might resign, but Stevens’ departure was a “complete surprise.”
Other than as an election vehicle, Luck is not sure that CRMG has a clear role.
“What it (CRMG) has been doing recently, I’m not too sure, with this divergence of thought with some of the other councillors. There have been some stresses within the group, some not meeting of the minds on some things, especially this thing with Coun. Hensman at this particular time. That’s been stressful.”
CRMG members meet annually. The last was held in December, at which members discussed campaign strategy for 2014. Coun. Tilbury, as the only non-CRMG councillors at that time, was out of the meeting.
“We’re not in there to discuss city policy, because we’re not allowed to. And we’re very careful about that…We weren’t setting policy or anything like that, but you had a group of people that wanted to move the city in a different direction, and like-minded…That’s what we’re trying to do there, and keep us united.”
Luck reaffirmed his commitment to CRMG, for now.
“Now that Jenny and Jeff have left, I have to look at the role of CRMG altogether. What is our role going to be now? Is it worthwhile sticking this together? Have we tainted the symbol, the branding? I have to look at that, and see where I fit in that moving forward.”
FULL STATEMENTS ON RESIGNATIONS
Coun. Jeff Jewell:
Recent issues have created considerable controversy and tension within the District of Mission Council, which each member has struggled to deal with in the most appropriate way, according to their understanding and values.
Unfortunately, some of the major decisions and actions of some members have been incompatible with my personal values, and what I understood to be the values and commitment of CRMG (Citizens for Responsible Municipal Government, the political association under which all members of DOM Council were elected in 2011). Accordingly, I have taken the difficult decision to resign from CRMG. I remain proud to be a member of this Council, and proud of our accomplishments to date, and I shall continue to fulfill my duties as Councillor to the best of my abilities.
Coun. Jenny Stevens:
My resignation from CRMG is a personal decision, which has not been easily or quickly reached. In my opinion, this Council has achieved much and I believe that the groundwork done may lead to more results benefiting our community. However, when I joined the CRMG team I did so in the belief that I had found a group of individuals who shared principles and values dear to my heart. Sadly, over the past few months, I have been forced to the conclusion that this is not true of every individual within the group and that I can not therefore, go forward to the next election with the CRMG team as it is or participate in their group discussions. I shall of course, continue to work with Council to achieve what I truly believe to be best for my fellow citizens.
While the issue of Councillor Hensman’s possible infringements have somewhat influenced my decision, they are no more than the final straw. Regardless of whether the allegations were valid or not, I do find Councillor Hensman’s failure to support an effort to seek an impartial decision reached by a qualified body, disappointing and the attempt to divert attention, by citing me as being equally compromised, totally unacceptable behaviour. When faced with similar allegations, I voted in favour of a police investigation and waited for the decision to be reached by the Public Attorney and then, asked the community to express their opinions by seeking re-election. Councillor Hensman had the same opportunity.