Castlegar council chambers host rare discord
For more than two terms (six years), it's been rare if not outright unheard-of to see a council vote split exactly down the middle, but tonight saw two such votes as well as an issue that prompted a 4-2 split.
The division began over the issue of the Cobra Climb stairs in Kinnaird near 10th Avenue - councillor Deb McIntosh put forward a motion, as chair of council's civic works committee, that council direct city staff to move forward with $18,000 in upgrades and repairs to the stairs ($6,000 for parking lot improvements and $12,000 to install lighting).
Council Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff countered with an amendment that would see staff hold off on the lighting installation, quoting a survey sent to area residents that saw the majority of respondents opposing the lights.
When the amendment was put to a vote, exactly half of council opposed it (Deb McIntosh, Russ Hearne and Kevin Chernoff), while the other three voted in favour (Gord Turner, Sure Heaton-Sherstobitoff and Dan Rye).
Withe the mayor not in attendance to break the tie (he's away representing Castlegar at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities), the amendment was defeated.
The next vote, on the original motion, saw a mirror image of that same half-and-half split, with Turner, Heaton-Sherstobitoff and Rye voting against and McIntosh, Hearne and Chernoff voting for, thus the motion was defeated as well.
The issue of lighting and repairs for Cobra Climb will now head back to committee for further discussion.
The contention didn't end there, however - shortly after the Cobra Climb issue, McIntosh brought forward another motion, this one proposing that the city ask Fortis to allow residents an option whereby they could 'opt out' of having a Smart Meter installed for their homes. McIntosh cited the strong opposition to Smart Meters presented by many, very vocal residents, as cause for the motion.
Rye moved that the motion be tabled until such time as Fortis actually applies to move forward with Smart Meters, arguing any stance at this point would be premature.
McIntosh's motion was defeated 4-2, with herself and Hearne voting in favour.
McIntosh said she's untroubled by having two of her motions defeated in a single meeting.
"That's democracy - that's how it's supposed to work," she said. "I disagree with (the other councillors' decision), but that's bound to happen sometimes."