Council split over town’s reps on board of Rainycrest

The motion brought up by Coun. Struchan Gilson on Monday night to appoint new representatives to the Rainycrest board of management is “a divisive issue” and must be resolved promptly, Mayor Dan Onichuk said.
The mayor said he was involved in a conference call yesterday with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, inquiring about the town’s procedural bylaws and whether he would get final say when appointing a new Rainycrest board representative if it is passed.
He’s also turned the bylaw over to legal counsel for further advice.
“I expect the resolution will be quick. It’ll be dealt with [this Monday],” he remarked.
“When certain allegations are made, and there’s no factual basis to them, that’s divisive,” Mayor Onichuk added. “Unfounded allegations and misrepresentation—I think it’s unhealthy for the council.”
He said he felt Coun. Gilson’s words were not a personal attack on him, but that the councillor was simply “misinformed.”
“We’ll take care of it and move on,” he remarked, adding he wants council to be more like a team in the future.
As reported in yesterday’s Daily Bulletin, Coun. Gilson called for the appointments of council representatives to the Rainycrest board of management to be reconsidered.
He charged that Mayor Onichuk was not following council’s direction as to how it felt about Rainycrest partnering with Riverside, and the possible hiring of Extendicare for interim management services at the home.
Coun. Gilson said he was outraged after the Nov. 30 meeting at Rainycrest, at which time he felt the town’s representatives on the board of management did not reflect the direction given by council.
At that meeting, Coun. Neil Kabel made a motion to cease all negotiations with Extendicare but Mayor Onichuk declined to second it, Coun. Gilson noted.
He added that, according to Procedural Bylaw 15, under the duties of the mayor section, “the mayor is to represent and support the council, declaring its will and implicitly obeying its decisions in all things.”
“There’s no element of free choice built into the wording of this bylaw,” argued Coun. Gilson.
He noted from all he’s seen, it appears the Rainycrest board of management did not know the town even was committed to pursuing the Riverside option.
“The whole incident troubles me greatly,” remarked Coun. Gilson. “Based on the foregoing, I believe, Mr. Mayor, your personal beliefs and desires have taken precedence over the expressed will and decision of council, contrary to Bylaw 15.
“Because of this, I, for one, have lost confidence in your ability to represent council on the Rainycrest board of management, and by extension, the other boards and committees you sit on.
“I believe you owe this council an apology and an explanation,” he added. “And I believe this council should replace you on the Rainycrest board.
“I’m prepared to make that motion, which we are allowed to under bylaw.”
Mayor Onichuk asked Clerk Glenn Treftlin if the bylaw Coun. Gilson referred to applied to non-town committees, to which the clerk replied, “There is an obligation, under the duties of the mayor section, that the mayor fulfill the direction of council.”
Council then voted to reconsider the appointment of Mayor Onichuk and Coun. Kabel to the Rainycrest board.
Couns. Roy Avis, Tannis Drysdale, Gilson, and Todd Hamilton voted in favour of the motion while Couns. Rick Wiedenhoeft and Kabel, along with Mayor Onichuk, were against it.
“That motion going forward, proper or improper, what would be my recommendation as to who those replacements would be, consistent with the bylaw?” asked Mayor Onichuk.
“Traditionally, in the past, the mayor would come forward with his recommendations for persons for these appointments,” said Treftlin.
“But there’s nothing spelled out in the bylaw under that section that profoundly says it’s in the mayor’s realm. It says ‘approved by resolution of mayor and council.’
“We don’t have anything that addresses this specific situation,” Treftlin added.
Coun. Hamilton noted that, if in fact the mayor did not vote to second Coun. Kabel’s motion at the Nov. 30 meeting, a simple solution might be for Coun. Gilson and Kabel to be the new representatives on the board.
“What you’ve seen is just a fraction of what we’ve discussed,” said Coun. Kabel. “The mayor and myself were very much in favour of going down the road with Riverside.
“That was our first priority.”
But Coun. Gilson asked why did Coun. Kabel make the motion, only for the mayor not to support it?
“The motion had nothing to do with Riverside. The vote was to end any negotiations with Extendicare,” said Mayor Onichuk. “The reason I didn’t second the motion is because we hadn’t had any negotiations with Extendicare.
“If we want to get into all the issues that are dealt with behind the scenes, they’re huge,” the mayor added.
“I can quite frankly tell you Coun. Kabel and I have had a discussion, and part of that discussion was ‘Do we want to continue on this board?’ Because we think we’re batting our heads against the wall,” he remarked.
“Both of us agreed it would appear we were jumping off a sinking ship, and that’s not my style,” the mayor continued. “I’d rather stay and work it out, and that’s what we intended to do.
“Coun. Gilson, if you would like to be on that board, we don’t need to pass any motion.
“I just don’t want anybody in the public to think I’m jumping off ship or I’m getting pushed off. That’s not the facts,” Mayor Onichuk stressed.