As Port Moody Couns. Meghan Lahti and Steve Milani prepare to vie for the mayor’s job this fall, a major question looms: who is to blame for the dysfunction of the past four years?
That debate recently played out on Facebook with Mayor Rob Vagramov and Coun. Lahti offering very different explanations for the sometimes toxic work environment in council chambers.
In an interview with the Dispatch, mayoral candidate Milani emphasized the need for council meetings to be more efficient.
“I think our residents have seen enough drama and I think they’re looking a more positive, more cohesive city council that can reach decisions,” Milani said.
Lahti addressed the drama issue in a lengthy Facebook post last week, explaining that she’d been accused of: “causing disruptions at meetings and of showing my emotions” during council meetings.
“In my opinion, any time you are dealing with bullying, misogyny or manipulative behaviour, you have a choice to either stay silent or push back. It is the pushing back that my opponent is referring to as ‘drama,’” Lahti wrote. “In silence, my opponent was standing by quietly and watching his colleagues being mistreated, threatened and bullied, which speaks volumes about his support of the behaviour.”
Lahti also accused Mayor Rob Vagramov of attempting to intimidate her.
“I raised this with my colleagues privately and publicly to no avail. Other female members of our council raised similar accounts of threats, intimidation and other tactics being used against them,” she wrote.
Vagramov responded with his own Facebook post in which he dubbed Lahti: “one of the major sources of drama” on city council.
While the mayor didn’t directly address the accusation of intimidating female councillors, he suggested criticism of Lahti was valid.
“Because it must all be about her gender, right?” he asked sarcastically. “It can’t possibly be about her consistently rude behaviour, or her abhorrent voting record, or her self-contradicting positions, or her constant flip flopping, or her constant pushback against city council doing its primary function – regulating the development industry.”
On May 25, 2021, Lathi, along with Couns. Zoe Royer and Diana Dilworth, clicked out of a public hearing, a decision Lahti later stated was: “the best and only course of action,” given the circumstances.
Vagramov and Lahti each posted conflicting accounts of the events surrounding the May 25 meeting.
Vagramov and Lahti also clashed later that year following a decision to postpone the Coronation Park project. The project needed to be delayed due to a “paradigm shift” stemming from a large pending development in nearby Coquitlam, Vagramov contended.
Lahti accused the mayor and others of “delay tactics,” advising that the developer might walk away from the project.