I was warned against this.
Editorials, I was told repeatedly, are not for tossing out bouquets. And yet here I am with flowers in my hand for, of all groups, Port Moody council.
Not because they agree on everything. Not because they’re harmonious. No, the reason they deserve some kudos is because of how far they’ve come.
Last spring, the mayor likened relationships among council to a pot of honey mixed with manure. At the time, he was outlining a workshop series designed to assuage that toxicity. The reaction was less than encouraging.
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Coun. Meghan Lahti noted that she’d asked for a similar intervention for more than a year. Coun. Zoe Royer pointed out she’d drafted her own motion to create a more respectful workplace.
“I don’t know why you saw the need to jump in before my full report to council but that’s OK,” Royer told the mayor.
“I want everybody to show up for this one,” Coun. Hunter Madsen said.
The tenor of the meeting was a bit like that last, excruciating family get-together before the divorce is announced.
The hostility worsened in May. Council was set to vote on a development when Couns. Lahti, Royer and Diana Dilworth, who were attending via Zoom, departed within two minutes.
Lahti defended her decision to leave the public hearing as “the best and only course of action,” following her effort to have the public hearing deferred at the request of the development company.
Mayor Vagramov penned a 1,500 word-rejoinder on Facebook, defending his decision and accusing Lahti of trying to create: “an inviting storyline for her angry Facebook followers and their legions of fake accounts to try and spread.”
At the time, it seemed that nothing short of resignations or exorcism could help. And yet, they got back to work.
Following a contentious hearing on the plans for Coronation Park in November, council took another crack at it in December, ultimately moving to nudge the project forward contingent on a few conditions.
My point isn’t that this was a good or a bad decision. The point is that council’s decision was the result of a mature working relationship – something which seemed impossible only six months earlier.
During last week’s end-of-year council meeting, Dilworth noted that 2022 is an election year, full of “zealous campaigning over the next 10 months both inside and outside city hall.”
Still, her remarks were sprinkled with hope.
“I hope that going into the last year of our elected term that civility can finally override derision, that respect can override disdain and that we can work together,” she said.
If there was ever a worthy Christmas wish for a municipal council, it’s that one. Enjoy the bouquet.