Council goes where few have ventured before

We say: Every month we see something new at city hall

City council’s removal of Mayor Walter Jakeway as a Campbell River representative on the Strathcona Regional District board is another chapter in the long strange saga of this city council term.

The relationship between the mayor and the rest of his council has subjected Campbell Riverites to more things we’ve never seen before than any previous council in recent memory. It’s been very interesting. And that’s not a good thing. Remember the old Confucian curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

Well, we live in interesting times and you have to wonder how much it impacts the effectiveness of our municipal government. Mayor Jakeway spent the early part of his term lambasting and second guessing city staff. Then he moved on to voting contrary to and speaking out against city council decisions, resulting in an examination of the role of the mayor in representing council decisions. Jakeway made a case for his right to be able to speak out against decisions he doesn’t agree with, arguing that his role is to represent what he believes the voters want, not what council wants.

That role has now resulted in his councillors taking the extraordinary step of removing him as the city’s representative to the regional district board because of his stand against some of council’s regional waste objectives. One of council’s priorities is securing a regional compost centre for Campbell River. He voted against the concept at city council and he was the lone Campbell River representative on the regional solid waste management board who voted against keeping the Compost Education Centre open.

At issue is whether the city’s representative on these regional boards is there to present council’s viewpoint – as determined by a democratic vote – or whether he’s there to present his own personal opinion. And given that city representation is an appointment rotated amongst councillors, the implication is that they are indeed representatives of council and not of the voters in a direct sense. If they represented the voters directly, there would be elections.