Two Port Clements councillors join mayor in stepping down

Port Clements residents will vote for two new councillors as well as a new mayor in a by-election this March.

Port Clements will elect two new councillors along with a new mayor this March.

Following the mid-term resignation of former Mayor Ian Gould, Councillors Matthew Gaspar and Christine Cunningham decided last month that they too would step down from the five-member council.

Both said they are resigning mainly because their work leaves little time for council, and the coming by-election means their stepping down won’t be too disruptive.

This is the first Port Clements council to have a four-year term, rather than three a shift that was made across the province.

“Four years is definitely a challenge, in my opinion,” said Gaspar, who served a three-year term before this one.

Cunningham noted that the by-election is a good chance for new people to join council, given they only need to serve until October 2018.

“I really enjoyed being a part of it, but I’m a full-time teacher, I have two young kids, and the commitments became a little bit overwhelming,” she said.

When Ian Gould resigned, he said although the council has had a good working relationship, he was frustrated by its slow pace, adding that councillors have been too unwilling to tackle significant issues.

Gaspar agreed with some of those concerns.

“Things are moving, it just seems everything is difficult, even some of the simplest things,” he said, citing long negotiations over the community trail.

“That was something that should have just been a no-brainer, but it seemed to hit the brakes.”

Likewise, Gaspar said council’s plans to approve a new barge facility became so delayed that he worries the developer may lose interest.

Much of the delay arose from a legal challenge to some council members’ potential conflicts of interest in the matter concerns that were dismissed by the B.C. Supreme Court.

“It was one of those things that we dealt with in good faith, but then it sort of came out of the bag and the lawyers got a bunch of money,” said Gaspar, adding that he hopes getting fresh faces on council will “help the greater good go quicker.”

Councillor Charleen O’Brien-Anderson said she enjoyed working with Councillors Gaspar and Cunningham, and the group accomplished lots.

O’Brien-Anderson said it’s unfair to say council has moved too slowly she and others were really adamant about consulting the public before making any big spending decisions.

“I don’t have any regrets about that at all because I think that’s the way the process should work,” she said.

“We’re kind of like a large extended family, and I really appreciate that I’m all about maintaining that.”

Acting Mayor Doug Daugert said the new four-year term is long, but he was not surprised by how long it takes for council to get things done.

Regarding the community trail, Daugert said it took time, but the work done to move the trail 80 to 90 feet from neighbouring properties and further into the woods was a better result than the original plan.

“Maybe my expectations were lower,” he said, laughing. “I’ve seen the pace of things getting done by a government.”

“It would be nice if things were smoother, faster, and one problem didn’t lead to another, but sometimes life’s like that.”

Christine Cunningham and Matthew Gaspar will remain on council until the new council members are elected.

Residents can nominate candidates for the three seats from Feb. 7 to Feb. 17. The vote will be held March 25, with an advance poll on March 15.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that former Mayor Ian Gould would continue on council until the by election. In fact, Gould stepped down Dec. 5 and is no longer a council member.