Public Hearing Details. www.northcowichan.ca/OCP
All about the OCP process.
Public Hearing Details. www.northcowichan.ca/OCP
June 1, 2022, Open council meeting - Municipality of North Cowichan - Submissions to Council on behalf of Kate Marsh
Made by Jennifer Millbank, Ramsay Lampman Rhodes
The first time the four Councillors at the meeting heard from me (through my representative) on the matter, and then they briefly discussed 8.1chose to censure at that open meeting.
Open Council Meeting -
• Councillor Marsh strenuously disagrees that this matter should be dealt with in an open council meeting, for a number of reasons. Many of these can be dealt with in other forums, however, the open nature of the meeting does substantially limit her ability to properly respond to agenda item 8.1, which is for council to consider the report and determine whether or not to impose sanctions.
• For the record, in making these submissions, she does not accept that it should be in an open council meeting; she just doesn’t have a choice. There is so much more that she would like to comment on, but can’t. Councillor Marsh sees it as very unfortunate that this meeting was not adjourned until June 15, as requested, so that confidentiality issues could have been determined at the continuance of the court hearing currently set for June 13, 2022.
Efforts to Resolve Issue
• Councillor Marsh has made numerous efforts to resolve the issue in a principled manner and one that is consistent with her values. I encourage each member of council to seek to review the emails sent by Councillor Marsh upon receiving the complaint.
• Councillor Marsh’s values include an authentic desire to promote reconciliation with First Nations. This includes accepting that a First Nation is capable of voicing its views in the manner of its choosing.
• Councillor Marsh sought the ability to speak with Mayor Siebring shortly after she was notified he had filed a complaint on or about Sept 17/18th. She was denied this opportunity, yet she believes this could and ought to have been the end of the matter.
• By way of background, Councillor Marsh felt a strong reaction upon hearing Mayor Siebring speculate that the email from the Referrals Coordinator, sent on behalf of the Director of Lands and Self Governance, did not actually represent the views of the First Nation. She found this offensive and wrote a strongly worded email to all of Council, (save one), including herself.
• It is important the know that this email was sent within 10 minutes or so after the end of a 6 hour meeting, at about 12:30 am on Sept 8th. Members of the public might agree that no one is at their best in the small hours of the morning, and marathon midnight council meetings are not an ideal situation for good decision making or sound judgment.
• Councillor Marsh regretted and continues to regret sending the email. She has attempted on numerous occasions to be given leave to apologize for the manner in which the email was written, which she sincerely and wholeheartedly acknowledges was intemperate. It was not as respectful or diplomatic as it might have been had she slept on it and not sent it after the meeting ended at 12:20 am.
• On October 24, 21, she voluntarily prepared a sincere written apology, excerpts of which include:
“I am writing to deeply apologize to the Mayor and to all of Council that the email I sent on September 8, 2021 at 12:30 am was not clear to anyone but myself and may have been hurtful, certainly to the Mayor. I am very sorry Mayor Siebring.”
• This apology was 7 months ago: before the investigation was initiated, before court proceedings were commenced, before an investigation report was written, and before this present embarrassing spectacle in an open council meeting. I, for one, am completely baffled.
• The apology Councillor Marsh wrote to the Complaint against her was rejected. Ultimately, it was returned to her with modifications. The modifications included one statement that ultimately, in good conscience, Councillor Marsh could not accept. This particular change was critical, and it is not referenced in the Investigation Report. Again, I encourage council to review this, if they have not already.
• To cut to the chase, the change required Councillor Marsh to accept that the email from the Referrals Coordinator on behalf of the Director of Lands and Governance did not reflect the view of the First Nation. Councillor Marsh won’t do this. The First Nation can communicate with other agencies in any manner it pleases. Further, if the email from the Referral Coordinator on behalf of the Director of Lands and Self Governance did NOT reflect the views of the First Nation, this would be an “inside” matter for the First Nation to deal with.
• In light of the fact that the (First Nation) wasn’t alerted directly by the Municipality of the COW meeting that night, and had been alerted instead by a mail out from a community group they subscribe to, the nature of the response should not have been a big surprise given input on the OCP by the OCP advisory committee and the public on the Urban Containment Boundary in the area of the BMLAP is part of what Council in the COW meeting Sept 7th was discussing.
• Consider how strongly Councillor Marsh feels about the edit to her apology: she stood on principle, which ultimately lead to the path of an investigation, when all of this could have gone away if only she had thrown her principles out the door and said something substantive that she didn’t believe. Is this truly the point of your Code of Conduct? If it is, the whole process has run seriously amok.
• She continues to be sorry for the email written at 12:30 am on September 8, 2022. I’m fully authorized to say this on her behalf: she is sorry.
• Our reading of the remuneration bylaw is that on its face there is no discretion in whether or not her pay is reduced. The bylaw says it must happen. My view is that this portion of the bylaw is unlawful, as it is a fettering of the discretion of council. Council has the authority given by the Community Charter to set its remuneration, the investigator of a Code of Conduct complaint does not have that authority. They CAN make recommendations, as per 10.7 of the Standards of Conduct Policy. The investigator did NOT make a recommendation on pay deduction though the policy is clear under 10.7 (d) v that this was an option open to her. What council does with that outcome is up to them.
• The Investigation Report recommends the following:
1. Apology; 10.7 (d) vi and
2. Taking a session on respectful communication; 10.7 (d) vii
• With respect to the apologies that Councillor Marsh has attempted to make previously, the Investigation Report says the following:
“65. The Respondent indicated previously they were prepared to provide a written apology and in fact began that process, however, they withdrew their agreement to do so when, in their view they were being dictated to in terms of what to say and how to say it.”
• In actual fact, Councillor Marsh’s initial authentic attempts were refused. And she was not afforded her requests to meet with her Council Colleagues one of which was made on November 5, 2022 at 11:04 am by Councillor Marsh via the CAO and Acting Mayor, yet another context in which she would have apologized.
• In fact, Councillor Marsh has given an apology to Mayor Siebring, as quoted above: “I am writing to deeply apologize...” Nothing further should be required.
• Given that any local government table has to accommodate divergent and strongly held views, Councillor Marsh is and has always been willing to apologise for the manner in which she at times has communicated with Mayor Siebring. He is a colleague and deserving of respect. Councillor Marsh has sufficient humility to acknowledge that she is human, makes mistakes, and can do better. Her requests along with attempted apologies have not been accepted – the responsibility for this mess no longer falls on her.
• In the spirit of humility and out of a commitment to the municipality, on her own volition Councillor Marsh took a Non Violent Communication course on May 7th, 14th and 21st In good faith she wished to make amends, learn from the matter and leave the matter behind. She is also willing to take an additional ‘session’ if requested by Council.
• Councillor Marsh disagrees with the outcome of the Investigation Report but is willing to accept it and in her mind has already followed its recommendations.
I'm passionate about this beautiful place we call home and take my service as Councillor at North Cowichan and Director at CVRD very seriously.