They Would Have Preferred To Keep This In-Camera

By Ron Taylor. Two interesting conclusions from a staff report to Mission Council to be considered on Wednesday afternoon:

  • “There are no financial implications associated with this report.”
  • “No communication action is required”

If there were Oscars for the most monumentally stupid and intentionally misleading statements of the year the red carpet would be rolled out in Mission.

The recommendations which allegedly have no financial implications include:

1: Setting up a private corporation with the majority of Board members being neither elected nor members of City staff, with no obligation ever to hold public meetings

2: Handing over $1 million to this board.

3: Allowing the corporation to borrow up to $500,000 and spend six figure sums annually on behalf of Mission taxpayers without Council oversight, as long as the corporation included these plans in their budget.

4: The Corporation board members be paid a Directors salary.

5: The Corporation being able to use municipal staff resources as well as recruiting three paid staff.

The statement “No communication action is required” is nothing more than shorthand for ‘let’s hide the facts from the people.’

So, how did staff dream up this nightmare scenario?

Decades ago it was desirable for Mission Council to buy and sell land to create the industrial estate. At that time the Municipal Act did not allow this. So, Mission, like other Councils set up the Development Corporation. This was really only an extension of Council. All the Directors were Councillors and they received no extra compensation.

Legislation has long allowed Councils to buy and sell land so the there is no longer a need for this Corporation. It has around $1 million in assets which could be returned to the District of Mission.

Instead staff are recommending taking that $1million as seed money and creating a private corporation with no public accountability. A majority of the Directors would not be staff of the District nor elected persons, Instead they would be selected by the Mayor and one Councillor. These Directors would likely be paid Directors fees.

This Corporation would be free to indulge in Development activities assisted in this by three full time staff, additional use of District staff as needed, an annual budget of $500,000 from the District and the ability to borrow up to $500,000.

The Corporation would not be required to hold any public meetings.

What this amounts to is a group of people with no development experience being allowed to play at being directors of a development company using public money. There would be no risk to these Directors; all risks would be born by the Mission taxpayers.

It is no accident that staff has scheduled discussion of this issue for Wednesday afternoon instead of a regular Monday evening meeting thus avoiding public scrutiny.

It is difficult to ascertain with certainty where Council stands on this proposal but discussions with Councillors yield some clues.

To their credit Councillors Stevens, Tilbury and Nundal have stated they are opposed. Councillor Luck stated he will “do due diligence” and Councillor Jewell simply stated that “Wednesday is washday”

Mayor Adlem and Councillor Hensman have not commented publicly. However, discussions with other Council members indicate that Adlem and Hensman were opposed to public discussion of the issue, preferring to keep it in-camera (despite the fact there was no legal justification for that)

Mission Council needs to turn down the recommendation, wind up the Development Corporation and return the $1 million to Mission taxpayers (who provided that sum in the first place)

If there is a desire to play at being developers it should not be done at taxpayers’ expenses. It would be cheaper and more appropriate to buy an edition of Monopoly.

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