Because of the recent municipal election, held Nov. 19, city manager Frank Pizzuto reintroduced the previous council decision, which stated the mayor should formally approach the provincial government to seek permission to leave the FVRD, in favour of becoming a single-tier form of governance.
Couns. Patricia Ross and Henry Braun, along with Banman, spoke against the move. However, council voted 6-3 in favour of continuing with the process.
Now Banman will begin discussions with the province, despite his personal views.
“The mayor has to follow the wishes of council,” said Banman after Monday’s meeting.
“I’m sure this will be the first of many times that council has given me my walking orders and now I have to fulfil what council has said. That’s the tough part of being the mayor sometimes. You have to fulfil the wishes of council and I will do so at the direction of them. I am their servant after all.”
Despite the decision, Banman does not believe the provincial government will allow the move to single-tier governance. While no official discussions have taken place, he said the province has indicated that it isn’t an option.
He also said a local MLA has advised him to stay with the FVRD.
“I have talked briefly with one of them (MLAs) and the recommendation was we should go work out our differences with our neighbours. Council has given me different marching orders.”
Banman would not say which MLA he spoke to.
City reports indicate that leaving the FVRD will create a savings of approximately $750,000, a number that Ross believes to be inaccurate.
“Not only will it not save us money, I’m absolutely convinced of that … it will cost us more,” said Ross.
she said the services provided by the FVRD are well worth the money the city pays and she fears Abbotsford will lose its AAA credit rating with the Municipal Financing Authority if it chooses to depart. Ross also said the city will lose much of its bargaining power by becoming a lone entity.
Currently the FVRD consists of six municipalities – Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Hope, Kent and Harrison – as well as seven electoral area.
It provides many services including 911 and fire dispatch, weed and mosquito control, regional development, fiscal services and more.