Council Meeting June 12, 2018
I attended the council meeting for June 12th, 2018. This was my first meeting and I found it very informative. I was the only citizen at the meeting until one other guy showed up. He was there just to find out if his application for development had been approved.
Since I was packing my trusty MacBook Pro, I took a seat at the vacant media table at the back of the room. Within a few minutes, I was approached by Pam Cunningham who wanted to know what media I was with. It turned out that earlier in the day I had registered “PeachlandAdvocate.ca” for the purposes of reporting council meetings, promoting Peachland businesses, running referendums, and holding political feet to the fire.
All councilors except Peter Schierbeck was in attendance. I won't bore you with minor formalities, but I will point out that I got a much better understanding of why Peachlanders seem to dislike this Mayor and council so much.
As an example, a discussion came up about a “design contract” for a BC Hydro project that the Town of Peachland Paid for. I'm not sure what we paid, but the council was not happy that BC Hydro rejected their design. It cost Peachland a lot of money to have this project designed.
I was very impressed with the way Mario Vucinovic handled himself on this topic. He was clearly the only one at the table, besides Terry Condon, who appeared to understand not just the big picture here, but also the mistake that Peachland made. The Mayor appeared somewhat clueless and uninformed.
There is no way that BC Hydro would accept a 3rd party design for a project that BC Hydro is responsible for. From a liability standpoint alone, BC Hydro would have to reject the design. Mario understood this and tried to communicate it to the mayor, but I think she is just so far out of her depth, that it really wasn't fair for her.
Later in the meeting, the tree cutting issue came up. The staff made the assessment to take out the trees based upon a fair bit of research, but evidently no substantial reason or problem-solving effort. Staff claim to have conducted a “risk assessment” under international standards, and they gave reasons that they thought the trees should go.
- This is all well and good, but from my perspective, the mistake they made is in not knowing how to communicate their findings to the citizens of Peachland.
There was no indication that they considered hiring someone like Asplundh Tree Services – who only have 90 years of history in this kind of thing! I suspect that the money wasted on the Hydro contract could have paid for Asplundh to trim and manage our trees on Beach Avenue. But that's just another topic for another day.
I also found it interesting that the Mayor felt it necessary, at one point, to pipe up and declare something along the lines that someone out there had made an incredibly foolish comment that the trees were taken down because they obstructed someone's view! She reiterated for the record that she just wanted to point that out.
I find this behavior, by an elected Mayor, to be both ignorant and childish. This is not how a Mayor builds support, gains consensus, or gets re-elected.
I did have a good and civil conversation with Keith Thom after the meeting. It is my impression that while I won't like everything he stands for, he at least understands that many of the issues at hand today are there only because of this town's lack of professional leadership.
I think the council has some potential with Mario, Keith, and Terry. They seem to be the heavy lifters on this team. I sent an email to Mike Kent four days ago. He never responded, and he had nothing to report and nothing to add to today's meeting.
While Pam Cunningham's little flyby to route me at the begging of the meeting was about as transparent as a piece of Saran Wrap, she did have some thoughtful and constructive points to bring to the meeting. It could be that her talent and work ethic is held back or suppressed by poor top-down leadership.
I am optimistic that Peachland's issues are fixable. It's going to take strong and professional leadership, along with an improved communication and marketing strategy. I'm so looking forward to the next meeting!