Kitimat-Stikine regional district director Diana Penner says she’s resigning because the regional district won’t approve of her bid to name an alternate.
Penner, who represents the rural area north of Terrace and then south to Lakelse Lake and Kitimat, said prior commitments mean she can’t be at the meeting Friday in Terrace.
But when she tried to name Doug McLeod as her alternate, she said the board turned her down for legal reasons.
And that left her with no choice but to resign, Penner added.
McLeod would not be a stranger to the board as he had been the elected director for Area C but stepped down in early fall after disagreeing with the board over a number of issues, including the introduction of a mandatory garbage collection and recycling pickup program.
He had selected Penner as his alternate.
“Since the board has determined there will be no opportunity for an elected or appointed representative of Area C to sit at the board table at the Nov. 21, 2014 meeting, please accept my resignation in protest of your governance system and the biased conduct of the board to Area C issues and concerns,” said Penner in a letter dated Nov. 15 sent to the Terrace Standard Nov. 19.
Regional district administrator Bob Marcellin said that Penner dropped off her resignation letter at the regional district office.
He said the district was asked about McLeod sitting in as an alternate and the administration sought legal advice and consulted the Local Government Act, which governs regional districts.
“She indicated she couldn’t be here due to other personal commitments and that she was appointing Doug McLeod which caused a flurry of inquiries and comments,” said Marcellin of Penner.
The Local Government Act section 787 says an electoral area director must appoint an alternate within 60 days of being elected and if an alternate isn’t appointed, then the board will do it.
It also says “an alternate director appointed by an electoral area director holds office as alternate director until a replacement is appointed…or until the next general local election, whichever is earlier.”
Marcellin said the legal advice the board obtained agreed with the act.
“The legal advice we obtained is ‘no’ and even if somebody successfully argued these points – we don’t think they can, but if they did – there’s still the other point that doesn’t allow it,” said Marcellin.
“The alternate director’s term ends upon the local election, which was November 15.”
Penner does argue the points against having an alternate sit in for her.
“Doug was the natural choice. So I filed the appropriate form to do within the allowable time,” she said, adding the act contradicts itself in places.
“The board took exception to my choice of candidate and then sought legal council to seek a way out.
“The legal opinion is convoluted and can be argued for and against.”
In any event, Penner’s term as a director replacing McLeod is now nearly up as Jessica McCallum-Miller will be sworn in as the new director for Area C next month.
McCallum-Miller was the only person to file nomination papers by the Oct. 10 deadline, meaning she takes her position by acclamation.