Mediation ‘died’ after last council meeting

Coun. Bell no longer willing to meet after ‘ambush’ by counterparts

Mediation late last month could have resolved Coun. Corisa Bell’s complaint against a senior staff member with the District of Maple Ridge.

But chances of that died following the council meeting July 23, when two councillors and the mayor read out statements and stirred up feelings all over again.

“It’s pretty astonishing,” Bell said Saturday.

“The mayor hasn’t called to say anything about what’s happening.”

Couns. Cheryl Ashlie and Judy Dueck read out statements directed at Bell, while Mayor Ernie Daykin wanted to clarify that council is open and respectful to all its members.

Bell said that before council met, mediation was in the process of being set up that would include herself, the mayor and her consultant, Wilf McIntyre, as well as the district’s chief administrator, Jim Rule, along with a mediator.

Bell had complained about Rule following a conversation between them after a June 10 council workshop meeting.

Rule, in response, previously said he has private conversations with individual councillors on district matters, but doesn’t want to discuss those private conversations.

“The mayor is aware of the issue and I have every confidence he will deal with it appropriately,” Rule said then.

Wilf McIntrye, a labour consultant, said the meeting could have settled the issue. Initially, the meeting was supposed to take place between Bell, Rule and the mediator, but Bell wanted McIntyre present. The mayor was also included. Bell then agreed to that composition.

But after the July 23 council, during which comments were directed at Bell, she didn’t want to continue the process.

“If they’re going to treat her like that, might as well carry on and wait until the next election and see how it all falls out,” McIntyre said.

But there has to be some resolution, he added.

“The whole council is a mess. Sometimes there’s no control there.”

Daykin said mediation has always been offered to Bell and that she seemed in favour of a broader meeting, but that he hadn’t received anything in writing.

“There had been discussion about it, but to say it had been set and ready to go is not correct, in my opinion.”

That offer of mediation still stands, he added.

Daykin said he decided to prepare a statement for the July 23 meeting after reading a letter to the editor. Ashlie then called him, saying she wanted to issue a statement.

“There was no meeting coordinating anything. That is absolutely ridiculous,” said Ashlie, adding she just wants to move on from the issue.

Ashlie also said Dueck previously had been working on her own statement.

Bell said the comments weren’t just short points to make their views known, but all together, went on for 50 minutes.

Bell called three points of order to get the mayor to intervene, but was refused each time.

Usually, council reports given at the end of the meeting highlight events or meetings councillors attended in the past few weeks.

“They carried on as they wanted to. We just don’t follow proper procedure,” Bell said.

“He’s our mayor. He’s not supposed to have a bias the way he does. The mayor led the ambush to attack me in a council meeting.”

Ashlie has said that media is mixing issues – Bell’s complaint about Rule and the removal and editing of the video recording from the June 17 committee of the whole meeting, where Bell is said to have made possibly defamatory comments.

Daykin asked that a lawyer review the video and was told that parts of it should be removed from the video that’s posted online.

While Bell and her lawyer could review the video at the municipal hall, Bell still wants to know what she said during budget discussions that were possibly defamatory. Bell’s lawyer can also get a copy of the video.

Meanwhile, Bell’s been told by her lawyer that she also could have a case of defamation against the district implying that she was making defamatory comments. But costs to pursue that would be huge.

“I really believe, 100 per cent, that the tape is public property. It should never have been kept from the public.”

Bell said she’s been on the Lower Mainland Local Government Association for two years now and sees how other municipalities function and says Maple Ridge needs to improve the way it works.

“At the very least, we need to practise proper governance.”