By David F. Rooney
During a special noon-hour Council meeting on Wednesday Councillors backed away from their controversial decision last week to not re-appoint Mark McKee to the Revelstoke Community Housing Society (RCHS).
In order to squeeze McKee back onto the board Councillor Steve Bender resigned his seat thereby allowing Council to re-appoint the former mayor.
Mayor Dave Raven apologized to Mark and his wife Pat for any pain the decision may have caused them and was at pains to express his belief that the surprise decision was not intentional.
During an in camera session last Tuesday afternoon, Council voted to appoint four people from a list of six candidates to sit on the RCHS. McKee, who was elected as the society’s chairman during its AGM last month, was not selected by the four councilors (Steve Bender, Linda Nixon, Gary Starling and Chris Johnston) who were present and who made their selection using paper ballots. For whatever reason, they selected another — publicly unknown (until now) — person. Councillors Phil Welock and Tony Scarcella were both on vacation at the time.
The move had what Raven described as “inappropriate and unpleasant consequences” for Council and the community.
McKee who was asked to join the RCHS a couple of years ago to provide stability and leadership during a period of internal quarreling was hurt by last week’s decision but Raven said he has “graciously accepted” Council’s move to re-instate him.
In an interview McKee said he was very appreciative of the support he received from Raven and, especially, CSRD Director Loni Parker.
“She read the story on The Current (on Friday) morning and really went to bat for him,” Peter Bernaki said after learning of Council’s back-pedaling on Wednesday.
Speaking for himself, McKee said he was willing to accept the reinstatement because it was good for the community.
“I’m not doing this to let Council off the hook but for the good of the community,” he said. “I have no doubt that if they hadn’t done this our $2 million affordable housing project would have be in jeopardy.”
Speaking to Council, Raven noted that McKee’s leadership and vision are vital to the society’s success. It is in the final phase of an application for almost $2 million in funding from the Columbia Basin Trust and BC Housing for a 12-unit affordable townhouse-style condo project.
Meanwhile, Raven also said Council would not accept Albert Van Goor’s resignation from the society board. Van Goor, who serves as its treasurer, had resigned last Thursday to protest Council’s decision to bump McKee off the board.
So how does something like this occur?
Councillor Gary Starling had a reasonable explanation for last week’s decision.
“When we’re selecting people to sit on committees we often try to get some new faces on there,” he said.
Faced with a list of six candidates for four positions they all selected three sitting members — Peter Bernacki, Albert Van Goor and Glen O’Reilly — and an unknown named Bruce McLoughlin. For whatever reason they did not select Mark McKee whose name was also on that list and that, Starling said, led to “a terrible mistake.”
Fortunately, it has now been rectified.
The board now consists of three Councillors (Welock, Johnson and Tony Scarcella), five public members (Bernacki, Van Goor, McKee,
O’Reilly and McLoughlin), a representative from the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (Area B Director Loni Parker), one social sector member (Cathy Girling of Community Connections) and one City staff member (Community Economic Development Director Alan Mason).