Alternative to alternates sought

  • Dec. 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Is there an alternative to alternates? That’s a question the Moresby Island Management Committee faces with a new bylaw setting out the terms of their committee. The draft regional district bylaw was submitted for comment to MIMC at the Nov. 12 meeting and created quite a stir. “Whose initiative is this?” demanded Gord Usher, who since the 2005 election has been an alternate on the committee. In the recent vote he was elected as a voting member. In the past, residents of Sandspit elected five members to MIMC and three alternates. The alternates were the candidates who had received the sixth, seventh and eighth most votes. They were not voting members, but were able to take a seat at the table. If an elected member was away, they took the seat. The draft bylaw (no. 518-2008) made no mention of alternates, nor was any mention made of alternates in the advertising for the Nov. 15 election. Furthermore, the draft bylaw states that the regional district board will appoint a new member if any serving MIMC members have to step down. Mr. Usher and other committee members and members of the public felt that elected alternates were an important part of the system. “If there were no alternates we wouldn’t have meetings. You’re leaving yourselves open to having no quorum,” said Carol Wagner, a committee member who did not run for re-election. Another member of the public wanted to know whether the committee would seek the opinion of the public. She was concerned about anyone being appointed and preferred alternates and replacement committee members be elected by the community. Regional district administrator John Holland said the bylaw has not been through any readings at regional district and he won’t bring it forward until he hears from MIMC. He’s open to any changes. He said for now the system operates according to the 1999 bylaw. Since six candidates ran in the most recent election, the sixth candidate, Gayle Henry is still an alternate. Two more alternate positions may be filled by a by-election at any meeting. Meanwhile he doesn’t understand the fuss. “I’m puzzled by it because I’m not familiar with the alternate system at all.” He believes that when someone is elected to represent voters, they either can attend a meeting or not. If alternates do exist, he prefers they be selected by the elected official. “My concern with alternates is unless they attend all the meetings they would have no idea what is going on,” he said. At the Nov. 12 meeting, outgoing committee member Duane Gould also put forward the position that the committee members should chose their own alternates. “If someone going to meetings is speaking on my behalf the person in my stead should represent my views,” he said. Regional district representative Travis Glasman said he has an alternate, but has never used that person. As for whether the board appoints a new committee member if one steps down, Mr. Holland said a by-election is possible too. “There would be a cost to that,” he said. The rewritten bylaw also updates the wording on the responsibilities of the committee. Mr. Holland said, for example, the new bylaw would put responsibility for the fire department more firmly in MIMC’s hands.

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