by Alex Rinfret–The interests of Port Clements are better served by having the village’s mayor present at Haida-provincial negotiations than by silencing him, acting mayor Jukka Efraimsson told a delegation of concerned citizens Monday night (April 18).
The residents are demanding that mayor Dale Lore stop representing the village on any forestry issues, including the protest action and the negotiations now underway between the provincial government and the Haida Nation.
They presented a petition to that effect which delegation spokesperson Larry Brealey said had been signed by 60 to 65 people. The petition says Mr. Lore “has not fairly represented the view of the majority of residents and has pursued his own agenda as they related to recent developments surrounding forestry issues that have negatively impacted our community and caused undue hardships.”
The petition also requested that council immediately establish an economic development committee. The committee could bring the views of the majority of Port residents forward, and make sure that the positions council takes are in line with what residents want, Mr. Brealey said.
“Our concern is the lack of communication for this community about what Dale is up to,” Randy O’Brien told council during the hour-long discussion that followed. “It’s just absolutely ridiculous what’s going on.”
Mr. Lore was not at the meeting, because he flew to Vancouver Sunday to take part in negotiations to try and end the protest. Those negotiations were underway as we went to press, with a meeting between the islanders and the province set for Tuesday afternoon. An agreement, should one be reached, will be reported at www.qciobserver.com as soon as we have any information.
Mr. Efraimsson said the fact Mr. Lore had been invited to take part in the negotiations is good for Port. The village did not necessarily have to be involved, as the negotiations are between the Council of the Haida Nation and Victoria.
“The interests of Port will be looked after better with Dale there than without Dale there,” Mr. Efraimsson said. “We have more say with Dale there.”
“It’s much better he’s there than not there,” agreed councillor Paul Waring.
However, the three council members at the meeting (councillor Gerry Johnson did not attend) all said they have no idea what is being discussed at the closed-door negotiations. They have asked Mr. Lore, but he has said he can’t talk about it, which all agreed is unusual for the outspoken mayor.
“Dale loves to talk and if he can’t talk, there’s a reason why,” Mr. Efraimsson said. “If there was a way he could do it, he would.”
Councillor Lisa Gyorgy said she had asked the Council of the Haida Nation what was being discussed but also received no answers.
“We’re actually shut out of the picture, just like you guys are,” Mr. Waring told the delegation. “We have no information.”
With regards to setting up an economic development committee, Mr. Efraimsson said it sounded like a good idea, but was curious what issues the delegation thought were not being given enough attention by council.
Mr. Efraimsson said the current council-elected in late 2002-has written letter after letter to the provincial government about the devastating impact on small communities of its new forest policies. Council also took Len Munt, when he’d just been hired as the new Ministry of Forests district manager, out for a tour of waste wood and heli-logging sites, and set up a meeting between Mr. Munt and the local small businesses.
“He was going to straighten it out for us,” Mr. Efraimsson said. “We took (MLA Bill) Belsey out there… and he goes to Victoria with all kinds of digital photos he took. Do we see any results? No.”
Mr. Brealey suggested six names for the new economic development committee: Ernie Thomson, Stephen Foster, Anne Decock, Jim Abbott, Jean Traplin and Randy O’Brien. He also requested that either Mr. Waring or Ms Gyorgy be appointed as the council liaison to the committee.
Council agreed to activate the committee (a bylaw is already in place), and will advertise this week to see if any other residents are interested. The committee could be appointed at the next council meeting, scheduled for May 2.
Council held a closed meeting following the public meeting to discuss whether the village will pay Mr. Lore’s expenses for the negotiation trip to Vancouver. Administrator Dana Schmidt said councillors did not make a decision, and the discussion was tabled until Mr. Lore returns.
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