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Sayward set to miss deadline for financial plan after mayor walks out

The plan, which must be filed with the province by May 15, was set to go to third reading at a Monday council meeting, but that didn’t happen after Mayor Mark Baker left
Map: The village of Sayward on Vancouver Island.

The Village of Sayward is in “uncharted waters” because it will miss today’s deadline to submit its financial plan, tax rate, and fees and charges bylaws to the province for approval, says one council member.

Those bylaws were set to go to third reading at a Monday council meeting, but Mayor Mark Baker left the meeting before that happened, leaving just two councillors at the table, meaning there was no quorum to continue. The province requires municipalities to pass and submit their annual financial plans, taxes, and fees bylaws before May 15 in order to have property-taxing authority.

Sayward, a village of about 350 on Vancouver Island’s east coast, between Port McNeill and Campbell River, has lost two members from its five-member council in recent months.

In March, first-time Coun. Kohen Gilkin quit council, citing turmoil and a toxic atmosphere around the table. Last week, Coun. Tom Tinsley resigned.

Remaining councillors had planned to pass first, second and third reading of the village’s financial plan, tax rate, and bylaws at a special council meeting on Monday, with fourth and final reading on Wednesday.

But when the mayor left the Monday meeting, only councillors Scott Burchett and Sue Poulsen were still at the table, too few to form a quorum.

Burchett said he had introduced two items to the agenda calling for a vote on who the deputy mayor would be because no one has been appointed. He also wanted to review committee appointments, something that should have been done in November.

When those items came up on Monday, Baker said that he could not vote on them and left, Burchett said, estimating that council was about 10 minutes into the meeting. Baker did not return.

Because the village’s financial bylaws were to follow Burchett’s items on the agenda, they were not dealt with on Monday.

Baker could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The three-member council held a special emergency council meeting Tuesday morning where first, second and third reading of the financial bylaws were passed. But a full day must pass before fourth reading, which is set to happen at a 6:45 a.m. meeting Thursday. If approved, the bylaws would go to the province one day late.

“We are in uncharted waters … It’s all on the ministry to give us an extension,” Burchett said.

If the province refuses an extension, “It doesn’t allow us to collect taxes,” he said.

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