During a council meeting last week, Burns Lake Mayor Chris Beach asked council to consider appointing him to represent Burns Lake on the board of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN).
After the resignation of former mayor Luke Strimbold, council appointed councillor John Illes to sit on the RDBN board indefinitely. Mayor Beach says that, as the new mayor, it should be his decision on whether to sit on the RDBN board.
“I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls and having numerous conversations with voters and businesses leaders in our community about the fact that council should be supporting me for positions that the mayor normally fills,” said Beach during the meeting. “I’m talking about a definite expectation that council should be working together; a widespread belief that council should respect the election process that we asked voters to participate in.”
“One of the primary roles of mayors is to advocate on important topics, and the regional district enables the mayor to do just that,” he continued. “It’s been communicated to me very clearly and in no uncertain terms that if we don’t respect the process it will be a significant disappointment for those who took the time and effort to vote.”
“I’ve spoken to the regional district and appointments are absolutely not locked in; they can be changed with a council resolution at any time,” he added. “Having the mayor sit on the regional district’s board would send a clear message that we are willing to work together as a council and we’re respecting the democratic process and the voters of Burns Lake.”
The mayor’s comments were followed by a minute of silence, and then a comment from councillor Susan Schienbein.
“I understand your sentiment,” said Schienbein. “I think though that we had decided that councillor Illes had done a really great job representing us at the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako and I do know that it’s not always the mayors that sit at the regional district table.”
“I am really confident at what councillor Illes is doing for us, and at this point in time I would like to see him carry on as our representative,” she continued. “And at the end of this year, there’s an opportunity for us to discuss it again.”
To that, Beach replied that although it isn’t always the mayor who sits on the regional district’s board, councils usually allow their mayor to make that decision.
“I’m just asking to have the same respect and consideration than every other mayor that has sat on this chair in this community has had,” said Beach. “I really think we need to respect the [election] process that this town went through over the last several months.”
Council unanimously denied the mayor’s request.
“I respect council’s decision, but I am very disappointed,” said Beach.