Concerns about a resolution in support of student housing has prompted Saanich council to confirm that all resolutions submitted to future Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) conferences must enjoy the endorsement of council.
Council also agreed to send a letter to the UBCM “requesting that they verify late or emergency resolutions presented to them are endorsed by the local government” as a part of larger process to ensure the integrity of the democratic process.
While council approved these procedural measures unanimously, outsiders could also read them as a public rebuke of Coun. Fred Haynes by Coun. Judy Brownoff, who recommended these measures in a written report raising concerns about the process behind a resolution at the 2016 UBCM conference held last month in Victoria.
“This item,” Brownoff wrote, “was not reviewed, debated or voted on at a Saanich council meeting and so was not an endorsed resolution by Saanich council.”
Specifically, Brownoff’s report identifies Haynes as the person who “had submitted it” to the UBCM. Haynes, however, said during council’s meeting that he did not author the resolution. Rather, it was UBCM’s staff that wrote the resolution. He repeated the statement in an interview Wednesday.
“I give you 100 per cent assurance that it was written by UBCM,” he said. “The resolution was a product that came out of UBCM after they had looked at the full set of information that they received.”
This information – which Haynes had submitted through his email – consisted out of submissions from the Alliance of B.C. Students, University of Victoria’s student society and administration, and the motions passed by the councils of Saanich and Oak Bay at their respective meetings of Sept. 19.
Two days later, he and other like-minded parties submitted this information to UBCM with the hope to raise the issue with provincial decision makers attending the conference.
While Haynes acknowledged that he “was instrumental” in raising the issue of affordable student housing, he said he did not see the resolution himself until he opened the official document that contained it on the day that the conference started. And as soon as Haynes realized the resolution was “a distress to some of the councillors,” he withdrew it.
Saanich chief administrative officer Paul Thorkelsson said UBCM staff assumed without confirming that Saanich council had approved the resolution, a decision for which they have expressed “regret.”
Haynes and Victoria Coun. Jeremy Loveday later managed to convince delegates to consider and approve a modified version of the withdrawn resolution.
Brownoff said in a separate interview that she too supports more affordable student housing, but noted that Haynes should have been more careful, calling this episode a “learning moment for Coun. Haynes.”