Does alternate director mean alternate participation?
A Kamloops councillor filling in for a colleague on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board meeting wanted answers after he was asked to recuse himself from in-camera proceedings at a previous meeting.
Coun. Denis Walsh labelled as “unusual” the request for him not to partake in the apparent personnel matter behind closed doors earlier this month. He said the Nov. 7 meeting had three or four alternate directors.
“I know I was — and everybody left, so I assume everybody — was asked to leave a closed-door meeting as an alternate,” Walsh said. “I’m just curious. I’ve never encountered that before as a TNRD director or as an alternate.”
Walsh noted he, like full-time directors, has taken a pledge of confidentiality.
TNRD chair Ken Gillis said the suggestion for alternates to leave was made because the closed-door issue was an ongoing matter with which the alternate directors who attended the board meeting for a day were not familiar. Gillis added that alternates would not likely have been there to deal with the issue in the future.
“That’s why the request was made,” he said.
Director Mel Rothenburger, however, agreed with Walsh’s concerns. Rothenburger was away for that meeting, but his alternate, Lee Morris, was there in his absence.
“I rely on my alternate to fill me in,” Rothenburger said. “When I’m not here, my alternate is me, basically, a fully sworn-in member of the board and should not be expected, or even requested, to leave proceedings of the board that other directors would be at. I would hope in the future that no such requests be made. Surely, it can’t be a legal procedure to ask a member of the board, whether they be alternates or not, not to take part. It’s important to me to have my alternate present when I can’t be here, for everything that a director would be.”
TNRD CAO Sukh Gill said the regional district’s previous corporate officer, Carolyn Black, who is currently on leave, believed the request to be appropriate.
“It was a discretionary call, more than anything,” he said. “It was not in the procedure bylaw, per se.”
According to the TNRD’s procedure bylaw, board members and alternates are essentially on equal footing, save for participation in committee of the whole meetings. As a result of the concerns raised, Gill agreed to bring forward more information on the matter at a later date.