Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Two for the road?

With the prospect of some Caribbean travel on the agenda for Council members, two city councillors were quick to outline that they were interested in taking up the offer of the BG Group for a visit to their LNG facility in Trinidad and Tobago.

The topic was introduced to council on Monday night by City Manager Robert Long, who advised Council that the BG Group had issued an invitation for one Council member to make the trek to the Caribbean.

A journey to the Caribbean Islands that would be paid by the BG Group and as the Mayor put it, not  cost the city any money.

Councillor Garon was the first to advise that she had responded positively to that request, an announcement that appeared to come as a surprise to Councillor Carlick-Pearson, who inquired as to how the process of selection had taken place.

That made for a rather uncomfortable silence in the Council chamber, the first true moment silence of the three hours to that point. Leaving viewers of the council session to hear nothing but the hum of the air circulation unit, all be it for a few seconds, before Councillor Garon tentatively outlined her timeline of interest regarding the proposed trip.

The Mayor then weighed in with a potential solution to the Trinidad standoff, wondering if perhaps two councillors could be dispatched to visit the BG site, going so far as to suggest  to City Staff that they investigate that possibility further.

During the course of her review as to how she came to be the selected councillor for the trip, Councillor Garon mentioned the trip which the Mayor made to the same facility last fall.

A reference to the surprise announcement from the Mayor, who reported back to Council on his trip which was also paid for by the BG Group, offering observations which we reviewed for the blog back in October here and here.

Interestingly enough, as the conversation between Councillors Garon and Carlick-Pearson continued on the over theme of the proposed trip, courtesy of the BG group, none of the other Councillors around the council chamber offered up any thoughts on what Council might hope to learn from another trip.

Particularly from a journey that would take place so soon after the Mayor provided his background report from his visit to Trinidad and Tobago.

It was a lack of discussion, which could leave casual observers to wonder if another such trip is even required at this time at all.

It is worth noting that the subject of communities in British Columbia accepting these travel opportunities has become something of a bit of controversy in recent months.

With more than a few observers suggesting that it places council members into areas of perception problems and according to some academics, into a potential conflict of interest situation.

The best review of that theme coming from Gordon Hoekstra of the Vancouver Sun, who in December outlined some of those perception problems that come from these trips, using the trips of the fall of Mayor Mussallem and Port Edward officials as part of his theme.

We offered up our some background on his piece for the Sun here.

You can review the short discussion on the theme of Council travel from the City's Video Archive, the conversation starts at the 2 hour 57 minute mark and lasts but two minutes.

We have background on more items up for discussion on Monday night from our Archive of the February 24th session.

As well more items of note on municipal issues can be found on our Discussion Points from Council archive.

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