No longer are proposed changes to the District of North Saanich’s Regional Context Statement (RCS) being described as ‘significant’.
Council’s majority resurrected a motion on April 14 to order that the word ‘significant’ be dropped from an online description of a proposed amendment to the RCS. Councillor Ted Daly had actually dropped his motion to strike the word on April 7. Coun. Craig Mearns brought it back at council’s special meeting a week later.
Neither Mearns nor Daly spoke to the motion, but Coun. Dunstan Browne said its use was “an emotive response” by Mayor Alice Finall to the proposed amendment.
“I don’t want to see that word on our website,” he said. “Use ‘important’ if you want.”
Browne added he was not interested in dictionary meanings of the word.
Finall has admitted writing the post and having staff upload it to the District’s home page weeks ago. Apart from her describing the proposed official community plan changes as ‘significant’, the council had no other concerns about it.
Back on April 7, Daly said he had asked Finall informally to change her wording after he saw the post but she refused. He said he consulted staff’s report on council’s debate on the issue and said the word ‘significant’ was not used and said Finall’s choice of word did not reflect the will of the majority.
Finall said the word, and its dictionary definitions, are not the ones she wanted to use — such as ‘radical’ or ‘substantial’ — to describe the changes.
“I felt the word was accurate, not opinion,” she said. “Councillor Daly’s response to this is, too, his own opinion.”
Finall and her supporters — Coun. Celia Stock and Elsie McMurphy — appeared aghast at the debate.
“I find these attempts to bully the mayor demean you, Councillor Daly,” said McMurphy, adding it’s not up to a single councillor to dictate what another member of council is able to express on the District’s website. She repeated her distaste over this matter at the April 14 meeting.
The April 7 debate eventually became a test of wills between Finall and Daly, with the mayor asking Daly to withdraw his motion and Daly asking her to drop the word. After Stock called for some kind of consensus on wording, Daly withdrew his motion, yet continued to ask Finall to drop the word.
Council’s majority got the final word, however, and in a 4-3 vote had ‘significant’ dropped from the web post.