“Three days in Whistler in May with no agenda??? Sounds like a junket to me! For that reason alone I could not support it. All elected officials should be mindful at all times of what they are spending the taxpayer’s money on,”
By Gagandeep Ghuman
If the Lower Mainland and Local Government Association is to be believed, its annual jamboree is a place for municipal politicians to connect with each other and have debates and discussions that finally make their way into policy, all in the hope the communities and regions of the Lower Mainland continue to thrive.
For Councillor Rod Clark of the City of North Vancouver, that is a code to party. At a council meeting in January, Clark refused to support a motion that would authorize the attendance of local councillors to the annual conference of LGLMA to be held May 9-11 in Whistler.
“I am going to say my annual rant about this. Basically this is three days in Whistler for politicians, paid for by you the tax payers and it’s nothing but a party….it’s nothing but a party. Look at the agenda, there is no agenda. It says we are going to do this, may be this, and this is a general overall theme. But there is absolutely agenda. I can’t accept it,” he said.
Clark said he hasn’t attended a LMLGA meeting in many years and all elected officials should be careful of where they will be spending the tax payers’ money. Clark said the upcoming meeting in Whistler did not even have a firm agenda when it came before the council.
“Three days in Whistler in May with no agenda??? Sounds like a junket to me! For that reason alone I could not support it. All elected officials should be mindful at all times of what they are spending the taxpayer’s money on,” he said.
Councillor Don Bell, however, had a different take on it. Bell said there is value in membership of LGLMA and value in attending the conference. Bell said he has attended some of the conference and there was a thorough discussion of the policy at that time.
“They have been asking the members to submit items for policy discussion and I’d point out that it’s our voice at the UBCM, and it’s a voice that is recognised when it comes to putting in resolutions to the province, and having the credibility of the motion from LGLMA, as opposed to if it comes from the members,” he said.
Mayor Darrell Mussatto said although he hasn’t attended the conference in 10 years, he will be supporting any councillors who would like to attend the conference. “I’m too busy to attend that conference but they do good work there and I recall it differently than Councillor Clarke,” he said.
With Clark opposed, council passed a motion for allow councillors to attend the conference in Whistler and the expenses be paid from the Conference Education Traven Account. The 2018 AGM and conference in Whistler includes a trade show along with workshops, seminars, and keynote speakers, as well as the annual AGM and resolution session.
Jason Lum, the president of the Lower Mainland Local Government Association, said he has been involved with LGLMA since 2011 and doesn’t recall Clark reaching out to the association to provide his feedback or comments.
“We see many of our policy resolutions and issues being considered by senior levels of government, and we continue to have productive conversations around major issues such as housing, mental health and addictions, infrastructure, transit, etc.
This would not happen without the good work of the LMLGA and its member communities,” he said.
Councillor Clark also recently opposed sending a CNV councillor to a conference in Los Angeles in May.
Clark said much of the discussion in the LA conference seems to be about that city’s bid for Olympics. “I can’t bring myself to support attendance of a CNV councillor at this forum,” he said.