Harrison Hot Springs Mayor Ed Wood cited “extremely dirty politics” as the reason he did not attend this year’s Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Vancouver, which ended this afternoon.
This would have marked the first time he attended the convention as an elected official.
“Unfortunately a councillor has put a gag order on me,” Wood replied in a brief e-mail when The Observer asked for comment.
A gag order is typically issued by a court or government which limits the amount of information that can be released to the public or press; this usually applies to court cases, and there is no mention of the term “gag order” in the B.C. Community Charter or the village’s Council Procedural Bylaw.
In separate interviews with The Observer, Couns. Michie Vidal and Leo Facio denied there was ever a gag order. They both stated the council has no power to do this.
“That’s a complete lie; it’s a total lie,” Facio said. “That’s not sanctioned by council. There’s no way we can put a gag order on him.”
Vidal and Facio said it was Wood’s decision not to attend the convention.
“He decided not to go,” Vidal said. “He had told the councillors he saw no need for him to go, and that any meetings we may have could be handled by staff alone.”
In addition to educational classes and networking opportunities, the UBCM convention offers a chance for municipal representatives to meet with provincial officials and discuss community-specific issues.
Vidal said representatives from the village met with seven provincial ministers, including the Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon and Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth.
More to come.