The Vice-Chair of the Cariboo Regional District says he’s disappointed that Quesnel City Council has refused to meet with alternate Directors at the North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee.

John Massier, also the Director for Area C, says ultimately it will likely mean less meetings, and fewer chances for Council and the four Northern Directors to discuss issues in Quesnel…

“I think the negative part is that we’re probably not going to get a chance as the Council and the Northern Directors to sit around as often as we could and discuss things that concern of all us residents of Quesnel and area, so I think if we can’t get that discussion in a timely fashion, much of that discussion will just come down to the regular Regional District Board where the decisions will get made down in Williams Lake and there will be less people at the table. There will be the representative for the City and the four electoral areas and we’ll have the discussion there in front of the full Board.”

The reasons that the City cited for the decision not to meet with alternates includes that they weren’t elected and therefore not accountable, and there was also concern expressed that they were privy to sensitive information in in-camera meetings with no accountability mechanisms in place.

Massier insists that they are accountable, and he says they are also extremely important…

“They’re still accountable to our residents through their area Directors and that they swear an oath of office when they take on that role. And the way the electoral system works for electoral area Directors is that they’re the only representatives for the citizens in their electoral area, so if an electoral area Director can’t be at a meeting and doesn’t call their alternate, there is no representative on behalf of residents of that area.”

Massier says it’s different in the City because residents elect a Mayor and six Councillors to represent them.

On the issue of sensitive information from in-camera meetings, Massier says…

“These Alternate Directors are under the same, they do swear an oath of office, so they’re under the same obligations when it comes to in-camera minutes and that sort of thing. Our regular CRD Board meeting has alternate directors in in-camera sessions all the time.”

Massier also addressed the suggestion that they attend the meeting over the phone over through some other electronic means…

“The CRD Board feels it’s important for Directors to attend meetings in person. Our procedural bylaw that we operate under as CRD Directors won’t allow Directors to call into meetings other than exceptional circumstances which include illness, weather-related advisories or out of the area on Regional District business, a fairly strict regulation to attend meetings.”

Massier says he values the interactions with the City of Quesnel, and he hopes to continue a dialogue with them on the topic of alternate Directors.