With the City of Abbotsford looking at opting out of the Fraser Valley Regional District, one member of council finds herself in a difficult position.
Coun. Patricia Ross, the only member to vote against leaving the FVRD, holds two positions – city councillor and chair of the organization the city wants to leave.
Her dual role has raised conflict of interest concerns, and suggestions she should step down as spokesperson of the district.
It’s a point of view Ross does not share.
In a letter addressing the issue, Ross said the “conclusion of a conflict is based on the misinformation that councillors sent to FVRD are to carry out mayor and council’s orders. This is incorrect.”
She wrote the legislation states when an appointee to a regional district is at the board table they must “work and vote in the best interests of the region as a whole, not manipulate for the best interests of only their own.”
Ross added removing her as chair “would be manipulative or vindictive on Abbotsford’s part” and she respects her fellow councillors for not doing so.
She added it would be uncomfortable, on a personal level, if she thought separating from the FVRD was good for Abbotsford and bad for the FVRD.
“But I believe it would be bad for both.”
Ross appears to have satisfied her peers.
“It’s not up to council to decide. An individual has to make a personal decision if they are, or are not, in a conflict,” said Abbotsford Mayor George Peary.
Ross’ position on the district is appointed by mayor and council, and they could remove her.
Peary explained a fellow councillor could suggest she be replaced, or he could put forth a report, recommending removal. But, he has “no intention, at this point in time,” of doing so.
Ross is not the only local councillor on the FVRD. Peary, along with Couns. Moe Gill, Simon Gibson and John Smith, are all directors. However, as chair, Ross acts as the voice of the district.