During the portion of the meeting where members of the public had a chance to come before council to speak to items on the agenda.
Three local citizens, Fred von Ilberg, Gail Hall and Ellen Lewers, who had been named by Mayor Janet Evans as residents who made allegations resulting in council spending “hundreds of thousands of dollars proving that their statements are incorrect,” came forward to ask for an apology and retraction from the mayor. Terrance Martin was also included in the original article which appeared in a Sooke publication.
Von Ilberg said the allegations, of which there is no substance, were damaging to his reputation and character. Gail Hall said she shared von Ilberg’s remarks and Lewers said council should adhere to their own Code of Ethics.
Mayor Evans said to Hall, “I won’t apologize for speaking the facts.”
Council and the public had on hand the total legal fees which have been paid from 2009 to 2011 but there was no breakdown as to legal costs to answer specific questions brought forward by the four residents.
The district had recently signed a five-year agreement for legal services with their solicitor Lidstone and Company for $570,000.
Councillor Bev Berger said she was “quite shocked at some of the fees,” and didn’t recall council approval for some of them.
Evans said council was aware of all conflict of interest cases.
In 2009 Conflict of Interest/Code of Ethics, Harassment legal costs were $5,637, which included; public statement, opinion letters and suite conflict issues. For a total of $114,637.
In the same category In 2010 the costs rose to $13,445 and included such issues as anti-harassment policy, breach of confidentiality, conflict issues, conflict – breach of human rights, conflict – gifting to council members, conflict – school site, Epcor- employees/friends of council members, long distance call, research/BC online fees and sample/draft policies. Total legal fees, $176,508.
To date in 2011 the Code of Ethics/harassment expenses totaled $39,521, which includes breach of confidentiality, complaints re: councillor, confidentiality of emails, council coder of conduct, council solidarity law, council/staff interviews, grounds for in-camera meetings, in-camera matters, procedural fairness/privacy, refusal to sign code of ethics, social media review and whistleblower policy. The total legal costs so far in 2011 amount to $171,155.
Adopted: Bylaw No. 506, Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw for Public Parks and Recreation Ground, Not for Profit Corporations and Public Authority Amendment Bylaw (338-1).
Adopted: Bylaw No. 507, Traffic and Highway Regulation Amendment Bylaw (67-2).
First, Second and Third Reading: Bylaw No. 508, Records Management Bylaw, 2011 and designate Lisa Urlacher as alternate Records Officer.
First, Second and Third Reading: Bylaw No. 509 and 510, Sooke Core Sewer Specified Area Amendment Bylaw (174-12) and (174-13) Wright Road and Grant Road West. This bylaw allows properties along Wright Road and Grant Road the ability to connect to the community sewer. The property owners are required to pay a latecomer fee as well as related costs to hook up.
First and Second Reading: Bylaw No. 500, Sooke Zoning Bylaw, 2011. A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 7, 2011.
Defeated: A secondary suites policy with an amendment as to 12 months for decommissioning of suites and as to the addition of provisions for septic tanks and fields; and revisiting allowing of suites in all zones providing that they meet BC Building Code and municipal parking regulations was defeated.
Approved: Council directed staff to proceed with the road closure, removal of highway dedication and sale of undeveloped Grant Road right-of-way fronting 6826 Grant Road.
Change of meeting schedule: The November 28 regular council meeting will be cancelled.
Approved: Council approved Sunriver Allotment Gardens use the remainder of a $2,500 community grant ($500) for building a cob oven roof on the property along Phillips Road.
Amendment and Revision: Council voted to release Shambrook Hills dev. Corp. from covenant ET136519 as it related to the development of the former school site in Sunriver Estates. The covenant needs to be removed to allow development on the former school site. Staff also recommended that revised conditions applicable to the new school, playing fields and fire hall site be included in the proposed revised covenant. The Agricultural Land Commission approval provided for the exclusion of a 6.16 ha. site for those mentioned uses. The 6.16 ha. site will be transferred to the District of Sooke, along with a $300,000 contribution for Sunriver’s share of the cost of the playing fields.
Report: Sue-Lin Tarnowski, Director of Finance for the District of Sooke presented a Financial Forecast Report to council. It showed that for the period ending Sept. 30, 2011 there was weaker than anticipated revenue with a shortfall of about $150,000. The design for the connector road will be modified to take in the reduction. The other factor, says Tarnowski in the report, was the higher legal costs.