(From left) UBID trustees Glenn Loxam, Jim Elliot, board chair Peter Jacques.

Ministry correspondence, deleted agenda items highlight continued UBID dysfunction

More conflict has surfaced between members of Union Bay’s local governing authority.

Union Bay Improvement District trustee Susanna Kaljur is requesting a judicial review of UBID board chair Peter Jacques, claiming he deleted items from the agenda for their next public meeting.

Kaljur sent an email to the other three UBID trustees, as well as Jacques, chief administrative officer Gord Mason, staff from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and the office of the B.C. ombudsperson, on March 20.

The email, forwarded to the Record, criticizes the omission of two items from the agenda for UBID’s March 22 meeting.

The items included Kaljur’s request for a board review of a 2008 UBID policy regarding communication with the public, and correspondence from Tara Faganello — the assistant deputy minister for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. That ministry oversees local governing bodies in the province.

Faganello’s letter, which the Record received a copy of, was in response to grievances about “questionable conduct between trustees, and requests for the ministry to intervene” in Union Bay politics.

The letter reminded the UBID board to “conduct business in a professional manner and to rely on proper procedures to guide their work, deliberations, and decision-making.” The letter was dated Jan. 9, 2017, but the year was likely a typo.

“The concerns expressed do warrant my taking this opportunity to provide you with my perspective respecting the conduct of a [locally] elected, independent boards and the role of the ministry,” reads a portion of the letter. “I appreciate there may be strong differences of opinion at the board table and within the community, which is not uncommon.”

Faganello wrote that the ministry had received letters from Union Bay landowners about UBID’s meetings.

“I would also suggest that, in order to retain the trust and confidence of their communities, boards should function with civility and allow for productive, open discussions, where the views of both board members and the public can be respectfully shared and heard,” she wrote.

Agenda submission deadlines

Kaljur claimed she submitted her requested items within the deadline for the March 22 board meeting. She wrote in the email that it was the third time she had requested the review of the public communication policy to be put on the agenda.

In February, CAO Gord Mason replied to Kaljur’s requests that they were submitted too late to be added to the Feb 15 meeting agenda. He said requests are to be sent in at least five working days before the meetings, which always take place on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. Kaljur had sent her request on Friday, Feb. 9 at 9 a.m., but Mason said they should have been sent by Wednesday, Feb. 7.

An email to Mason requesting a comment for this story was responded with a pingback message stating he is away from the office.

The preliminary agenda for March 22 showed Kaljur’s requested items on it, but the final version — published to the UBID website on March 18 — omitted them.

In the email chain, Kaljur accused Jacques of deleting the two items without consulting the rest of the board.

“Chair Jacques, the agenda is simply a program or listing of events and items of business that will come before the meeting,” she wrote.

“It is not the chair’s mandate to edit/omit/delay/censure agenda items submitted. This is inappropriate [and] would mean that the chair is acting unilaterally. None of the trustees, including the chair, are allowed to make decisions unilaterally.”

Kaljur’s email then stated she is calling for a “formal judicial review” of Jacques’s response. Jacques had written that the policy review could be done at a future monthly executive meeting.

Kaljur wrote that holding private meetings without the public’s notice goes against the Improvement District Manual, and is a violation of B.C’s Local Government Act.

Jacques declined to comment for this story.

UBID’s next public board meeting takes place Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Union Bay Community Hall, located off of Highway 19A.

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