Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb is giving up his seat on the Cariboo Regional District (CRD), the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce, Downtown BIA and Cariboo Chilcotin Lillooet Regional Advisory Committee, but will stay on as mayor.
The move comes after Cobb received criticism for sharing a post in his personal Facebook page about ‘the other side of residential schools.’
“After much reflection and additional discussion with council, once again I take full responsibility for my actions and accept the negative impact they have had,” Cobb said in a news release issued Thursday, Nov. 4.
“I have made the decision to remove myself from all external city of Williams Lake appointments, including the Cariboo Regional District Board and the city’s appointment to the Chamber of Commerce, Williams Lake Downtown Business Improvement Association and the Cariboo-Chilcotin/Lillooet Regional Advisory Committee, effective immediately to allow myself to reflect on the current situation. After a meeting with members of council, new council appointments will be made to those positions.”
Cobb said it is not his intention to step down as mayor.
“I will continue to serve my community as I was elected to do and will work hard for the betterment of our entire community. The city continues to promote investment, development, and opportunity, and will continue its good work. There are many important projects underway that we will continue to make progress on.”
CRD chair Margo Wagner told Black Press Media her board initiated an emergency board resolution vote Wednesday, Nov. 3 asking Williams Lake city council to consider rescinding Cobb’s appointment to the CRD board because it is the council and municipality who decides who the representative is.
“The vote was ongoing and it is closed now and it was passed in favour, but I found out Mayor Cobb is going to tender his resignation from the CRD board anyway so that will mean we won’t send the resolution to the council because if he tenders his resignation then they just have to make a decision on who the new representative will be.”
Wagner said she wanted to thank Cobb for his years of service on the CRD board.
“His political history both provincially and locally is very valuable to us local politicians,” she said, adding the CRD looks forward to welcoming the city’s new representative.
The CRD issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 3, noting it ‘absolutely disagrees with the views on the impacts of residential schools shared by Mayor Cobb.’
“We see a history of discrimination, prejudice, and colonialism — enmeshed with stories of courage, achievement, and sacrifice. For those who attended residential schools, suggestions to find the good in that history, or put the past behind them, are more hurtful than helpful.”
An online petition calling for Cobb to resign has gained 996 signatures as of Thursday, Nov. 4.
Patricia Weber, one of the creators of the petition, said the group was also asking for Cobb to be removed from boards.
“I was absolutely disgusted and shocked that Walt Cobb would share a post that calls into question the severity and impact of residential schools, at a time when recent evidence is emerging that suggests the horrors of the schools are far worse than what government is imagining,” Weber said.
“As the local residential school is just starting to be explored for bodies, to have a mayor share a post like this is appalling.”