Port councillor loses seat

  • Sep. 15, 2010 7:00 p.m.

Port Clements councillor Stephen Foster has lost his seat on the village council after he failed to file his campaign financing paperwork before the deadline of Sept. 9. Mr. Foster, the owner of local business Gas Plus, was elected in an April by-election. He has not been present at a council meeting since June 21. Village administrator Heather Nelson-Smith said council had no say in the decision to remove Mr. Foster. He automatically lost his seat under a section of the Local Government Act, which states that all candidates must file disclosure statements listing campaign contributions within 120 days of an election, even if no contributions were received. There is another 30 day period after that in which a candidate can file the statement and pay a late penalty of $500. In addition to losing his seat, Mr. Foster is disqualified from running in the upcoming byelection and from running in the next round of local government elections in November 2011. The village has tried to contact Mr. Foster for several weeks by phone, fax, e-mail and regular mail, with no response, Ms Nelson-Smith said. Council members attending the Sept. 7 meeting also said they had tried to contact Mr. Foster, with no success. Mr. Foster told the Observer this week that he was aware he had lost his seat and did not want to say anything more about it. Mr. Foster’s failure to file the statement means that Port will have to hold another by-election. Ms Nelson-Smith said the likely election date is early January. Council will discuss the situation and make a decision at its next meeting Sept. 20. The vacancy leaves Port council in a tenuous position. One council member, Greg Stewart, will be away for medical reasons after the next meeting, and mayor Cory Delves will be going off island to attend the Union of BC Municipalities conference and won’t be returning until the end of October, leaving council without a quorum and therefore without the ability to make any decisions. Council members discussed the situation last Tuesday (Sept. 7), before they knew for certain that Mr. Foster would lose his seat. They asked Ms Nelson-Smith to prepare a bylaw that will allow council to meet by teleconference, something it can’t do right now. The cost of holding a by-election will be about $4,000, Ms Nelson-Smith said. The village does have the money set aside in its budget, she said.