I am responding to the letter published in your newspaper, entitled “FVRD Chair urged to resign”. The writer’s conclusion of a conflict is based on the misinformation that “councillors sent to FVRD are to carry out mayor and council’s orders.” This is incorrect. In fact, the legislation says that although appointed to the regional board by council, when at the FVRD board table, they are actually required to work and vote in the best interests of the region as a whole, not manipulate for the best interests of only their own. There is no obligation to carry out the whims of council. Actually, to remove me would be manipulative or vindictive on Abbotsford’s part and I respect my colleagues a great deal for their integrity in not doing so, even if we disagree on this matter. This is only one of the many issues dealt with by the board and it is quite common for council members from the same community to vote differently than each other at FVRD board. While chair at the FVRD table, that is considered completely independent from council and should be.
I considered this carefully before I ran for chair, sought advice and am assured there is no legal or ethical conflict. It may have been uncomfortable for me on a personal level if I believed separating from the FVRD was good for Abbotsford and bad for the FVRD but I believe it would be bad for both. Please do not confuse disloyalty to an idea, with disloyalty to my community or region. Although this issue may just have been made public, we have been dealing with it for most of last year. Yet, the majority of my board still trusted me to be a fair chair, re-electing me just last December.
On the issue of the process that this would follow, the request by Abbotsford is made to the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development whose role it will be to investigate and make any recommendations required. The decision on this matter is not left to the FVRD board, of which I am the chair. Any further discussions of this matter at the FVRD board table results in 20 board directors voting, of which only five are from Abbotsford. As the chair, I only have one vote and possess no other executive or legislative authority in this regard.
Even those councillors who so far favour separating have said clearly they have still not yet made up their minds and are open to more information that could change their position. At the council table, all I am trying to do, is ensure my council have all the information on which to base their decision. As always, I respect them even when we disagree.
As well, reference to “FVRD woos Abby with more equitable plan” is misleading in that staff of the FVRD have been working on financial and organization restructuring for some time now, in an effort to incorporate into the 2011-2015 financial plan which has an effect on all member municipalities’ and electoral areas’ costs. This work would have occurred regardless of Abbotsford council’s decision.