Woodland Drive resident lobbies for alternate mayor to hear resident concerns

When it comes to Woodland Drive water and sewer discussions council’s planning and operations committee will be the contact for the public.

When it comes to Woodland Drive water and sewer discussions council’s planning and operations committee will be the contact for the public.

Presently residents on Woodland Drive are not hooked up to the city’s water and sewer and over the last few years, the city has applied for grants to cover the $3.5 million cost of the project.

Mayor Kerry Cook lives on Woodland Drive and excludes herself from all Woodland Drive discussions because of a perceived conflict of interest.

Her absence frustrates at least one Woodland Drive resident, who brought his concerns to Coun. Geoff Bourdon.

“They felt they are unrepresented because the mayor is naturally the figurehead for the city,” Bourdon said. “There was no picking of anyone in particular to be alternate mayor, they wanted an individual to be able to go to.”

Bourdon’s suggestion was discussed at Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting.

Coun. Sue Zacharias argued appointing an alternate mayor could set a precedent.

Normally council doesn’t appoint an alternate mayor for any other issues.

“If the discussion comes up at council the mayor excuses herself and we have an alternate mayor running the meeting,” she said.

Zacharias, along with councillors Ivan Bonnell and Surinderpal Rathor are on the planning and operations committee.

Acting chief administrative officer Geoff Goodall suggested the council direct the committee to do some work to get around the point that the mayor as the figurehead isn’t working on the Woodland project.

Rathor acknowledged the project is frustrating, that he’s exhausted asking government for help, and suggested it is too much work for one person.

“This isn’t an average issue. I have been approached by a number of residents who have said they don’t think it’s going to fly because the mayor has a conflict of interest,” Rathor said, adding he also made a point of taking Minister of Sports, and Cultural Development Bill Bennet on a tour of Woodland Drive when he was in Williams Lake last fall.

“Every time I can I contact someone in Victoria and tell them, ‘heh, it’s only $3.5 million.’”

Bourdon said while appointing a champion is important for contacting government and having someone for the public to go to, he also said it’s bigger than the committee structure because it is a political issue.

Bonnell said the committee has to step up to the plate.

“We have to do some work and report back to council because I agree it’s sitting and not moving anywhere at this point of time.”