A “stupid and pointless drama” spilled onto social media as Port Moody’s mayor and a rival councillor have wrote conflicting accounts of a May 25 public hearing that now threatens to stretch into a three-week ordeal.
Leaving an in-progress public hearing prior to the vote was: “the best and only course of action,” according to Coun. Meghan Lahti.
May 25 meeting: Council was set to vote on a 197-unit development and daycare at the 3100 block of St Johns, St. George and Buller streets when Couns. Lahti, Zoe Royer and Diana Dilworth, who were attending via Zoom, departed within two minutes.
Both Lahti and Dilworth sent emails indicating weren’t able to rejoin the meeting, according to Coun. Steve Milani.
At issue: Lahti repeatedly emphasized that the public hearing should be deferred, given Buffalo Group development company’s request to defer and amend the project.
Following verbal and written requests from the applicant on the morning of May 25, a formal request to defer was received at 2:16 p.m. The applicant also reached out to council at 6:29 p.m., shortly before the meeting was to start.
Such a request is unusual but not unprecedented, Lahti wrote.
“The Mayor had a duty to share this information when he received it,” Lahti wrote. “He deliberately referred to the 6:29 email rather than refer to a briefing he had received earlier in the day.”
The mayor’s response
In his own 1,500-word rejoinder on Facebook, Mayor Rob Vagramov suggested the “briefing” amounted to “unconfirmed hearsay” about what the developer “might” do.
There was “no indication whatsoever” changes were being considered in the weeks before the public hearing, which followed the application, a prior council vote as well as newspaper advertisements and mail-outs to affected parties regarding the hearing, Vagramov contended.
The applicant’s request for “some time to re-evaluate the housing contribution,” was not a compelling reason to hang up on dozens of residents waiting to speak on the project, Vagramov wrote.
“Another public hearing was going to happen either way,” Vagramov wrote.
By focusing on the briefing, Vagramov accused Lahti of trying to create: “an inviting storyline for her angry Facebook followers and their legions of fake accounts to try and spread.”
The next meeting
Without quorum, the public hearing was moved to Thursday, May 27. However, that meeting was also scuttled when Couns. Lahti, Dilworth and Royer did not attend.
Lahti alleged the mayor knew there would be no quorum on Thursday, May 27.
“Being on Zoom for showmanship is not good governance,” she wrote.
Quorum was expected Thursday, according to Vagramov, who wrote that Coun. Dilworth confirmed her presence on Wednesday but cancelled Thursday afternoon.
“My hope was that one more politician would show up for their job,” he wrote.
The public hearing is currently slated to resume at a June 15 meeting.
Lahti promised that, “if given the opportunity,” she will explain how motions made during the May 25 meeting violated the Local Government Act.
“The city’s liability was being exposed,” Lahti wrote.
The city’s agenda has been backlogged as: “a bunch more of this stupid and pointless drama was kicked up and aired in public for no good reason whatsoever,” Vagramov concluded.
Related content: Editorial: 90% of government is just not walking out