Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt is urging residents offended by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority’s rejection of the city’s appointee to its board to let the authority know about it.
Isitt is calling on residents to attend the harbour authority’s public meeting today at the Coast Harbourside Hotel, 146 Kingston St., at 5:30 p.m.
“I think we have to hold the board to account and let them know that they are responsible for stewarding public and quasi-public assets, and the public has a right to be heard and seen,” Isitt said Wednesday.
In a recent letter to Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, GVHA chairman Bill Wellburn says the board’s selection committee does not believe Coun. Shellie Gudgeon — the unanimous selection of Victoria council — has the skill-set the harbour authority needs. Wellburn asked Fortin to suggest a different nominee.
Isitt said there has been considerable public interest since the Times Colonist reported on the issue last week.
“I think this is the beginning of a democratization process for the GVHA and its board, and it’s important for people to get involved,” Isitt said.
On his website, Isitt is urging residents to attend both the GVHA meeting at 5:30 p.m. and the Victoria council meeting at 7:30 p.m. to make their views known.
“Together, we can restore democratic accountability to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and ensure the public interest is respected in the stewardship of Victoria’s natural jewel — our harbour and vital waterfront lands,” Isitt writes.
The city’s current appointee to the GVHA board, which pays a $4,000 annual retainer and $400 per meeting, is Coun. Pam Madoff.
Whether or not the GVHA has the right to reject the city’s appointee is up for debate.
The GVHA was formed in 2002 when the federal government was divesting itself of port properties.
Under the founding memorandum of understanding, one director was to be appointed from each of Victoria, Esquimalt, the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, the Provincial Capital Commission, the Capital Regional District, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Victoria.
Two directors were also to come from the Harbour Society, and three directors at large were to be appointed by the board.
But the GVHA passed bylaw changes in 2012 stating that the board retains the sole discretion of whether or not to accept nominees from member organizations.
Isitt and fellow councillors Geoff Young, Lisa Helps and Gudgeon have each submitted an identical motion to council that, if passed, would call on the GVHA to amend its bylaws to allow members to appoint a director of their choosing to its board.
The resolution also calls for support from other GVHA founding members — the Provincial Capital Commission, Esquimalt, Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations and the CRD.
Last week, a resolution to ask the GVHA to ensure its constitution and bylaws were consistent with the original memorandum narrowly failed to get the support of a majority of councillors.
Today’s vote is bound to have a different result as two dissenters, councillors Chris Coleman and Marianne Alto, are out of the country on city business.
>Editorial, A10; Comment, A11
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