Some Union Bay residents are questioning their local governing authority after footage from a recent board meeting was deleted.
Seventeen minutes of footage from the Union Bay Improvement District’s Nov. 16 public meeting was missing when the video was posted to the UBID website in early December.
The footage is the only (legally allowed) recording of that meeting. Earlier this year, the improvement district passed Bylaw 270, which forbids audio or video recording of its board meetings by gallery members.
“Public meetings of the board will only be recorded by UBID and posted on the website,” reads a portion of the bylaw.
Two gallery members asked how the footage had been erased during question period of the Dec. 14 meeting. UBID chief administrative officer Gord Mason replied that it was erased accidentally while the file was being transferred to the computer. He apologized for the missing footage.
Given the topic discussed during the missing portion of the video, some gallery members expressed skepticism.
The 17 deleted minutes included a discussion surrounding a motion from UBID trustee Susanna Kaljur. At the Nov. 16 meeting, Kaljur had made a motion to send a letter to the Comox Valley Regional District requesting a study on the pros and cons of having Union Bay join the CVRD as a service area.
The debate around governance in Union Bay is not new. A petition to dissolve UBID and transfer its Letters Patent to the CVRD garnered 428 signatures last year. The petition was written after three trustees resigned from the UBID board in July 2016, meaning quorum could not be reached and meetings could not be held.
After a byelection filled the vacant trustee positions in the fall of 2016, a majority of the new UBID board considered the petition inadmissible because many of the signees were not landowners in Union Bay.
Kaljur’s motion acknowledged that Union Bay landowners would ultimately decide in a referendum whether or not the improvement district’s responsibilities and management should be transferred to the CVRD.
The motion ultimately passed 3-2 on Nov. 16, with Kaljur, trustee Jim Elliott and board chair Peter Jacques voting in favour. Trustees Glenn Loxam and Rick Bitten voted against it. The missing footage ends a minute before the vote takes place.
Internal strife between trustees
Also during the November board meeting, Kaljur called for a public service announcement to be added as a late agenda item so she could read aloud an email she had received from Loxam. She called the email “disparaging.”
As a result of Kaljur’s PSA, eight landowners in Union Bay sent a joint letter to UBID on Dec. 6, calling for her to resign as trustee. The letter stated she had violated UBID’s Code of Conduct when she read aloud Loxam’s email.
“When she made her so-called PSA, it was to read a private email from trustee Loxam. This email was of a sensitive nature and should not have been read publicly,” reads a portion of the letter.
“Her actions completely violate the UBID Code of Conduct… that states ‘trustees shall not disparage the motives, personalities, developments, personalities or performances of employees or fellow trustees’.”
Kaljur claimed she did not see the landowners’ letter until a few hours before the Dec. 14 meeting. She asked Jacques to read the letter aloud at that meeting so it would be included in the meeting minutes.
Also during the Dec. 14 meeting, a gallery member asked if the letter to the CVRD had been sent yet. Jacques responded that it had not. He said further discussion about the motion should be included on the next board meeting’s agenda.
Mason could not be reached for an interview. An email message stated he is out of the office until Jan. 9, 2018.
When asked by a gallery member which eight landowners had submitted the letter to Kaljur, Jacques declined to read the names. He said they would be recorded in the meeting minutes.