News

City of Victoria shot down by Greater Victoria Harbour Authority board

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is sticking by a controversial bylaw change that allows its directors to reject local politicians as board directors.

In Feb. 2013, the GVHA board caused a stir when it initially rejected Victoria Coun. Shellie Gudgeon as its newest appointee.

Gudgeon was eventually approved by the board after public pressure and lobbying from the City of Victoria, but the board's newfound authority to screen directors for appropriate qualifications sat unchallenged – until today.

In a poorly publicized special general meeting Friday afternoon, a majority of GVHA member reps shot down a resolution from the City of Victoria that would have given public member agencies – Victoria, Esquimalt and the Capital Regional District – final say over who sits in their director seats.

"Obviously, we're very disappointed," said Coun. Pam Madoff, who spoke on behalf of the City of Victoria at Friday's meeting. "Council will be deliberating further, considering the outcome, to determine where we go from here."

Only Madoff and the CRD's representative, Alistair Bryson, voted in favour of the resolution. Esquimalt Coun. Lynda Hundleby, who was representing the Provincial Capital Commission, abstained from the vote to respect the PCC's imminent dissolution.

"I'm disappointed," said Gudgeon after the meeting. "I look forward with meeting with council to discuss the next steps."

The slurry of public and private-sector GVHA members now has the power to turn away nominees chosen by elected bodies, should it feel those nominees lack credentials for GVHA business.

Last February, GVHA board chair Bill Wellburn said the non-profit society needs to exercise discretion when approving new directors so that only the most qualified people oversee GVHA operations.

"We're running a harbour, so we want specific skills around cruise and tourism, terminals and transportation and the general marine sector and marinas," Wellburn said.

The GVHA board is comprised of one director each from the City of Victoria, Township of Esquimalt, Esquimalt Nation, Songhees Nation, the Provincial Capital Commission, the Victoria/Esquimalt Harbour Society, Tourism Victoria, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and the Capital Regional District. Another three directors are appointed from the community at large.

Victoria council will discuss the GVHA decision at the first available opportunity, Madoff said.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Correction: A previous version of this article inaccurately stated the board voted on the City of Victoria resolution. The GVHA member representatives voted on the resolution. The News regrets the error.

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