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Half of municipal reps on PCC board resign over land sale strategy

Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt says there is benefit to having city representation on board

Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt is bucking the trend set by his fellow councillors by upholding his appointment to the Provincial Capital Board.

“I think there are benefits in having a representative of the city challenging the proposed sell-off of PCC properties at the board table,” he said. “For now, I intend to continue serving in this capacity.”

Victoria Coun. Geoff Young was the first to resign, after the provincial government released its budget Tuesday, which outlined a plan to sell 100 “surplus” properties.

Saanich councillors Dean Murdock and Nichola Wade followed Young’s lead on Thursday.

The big question is whether the PCC board will have any ability to reject proposed land sales, though such decisions must technically be approved by the board.

Last month, the provincial government announced Shared Services B.C. would take over management of PCC’s assets.

Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Ida Chong said the change was motivated by efficiency and cost savings.

Critics, however, charged it stripped the board of any real power, essentially relegating it to organizing outreach activities.

“I don’t even know if there are decisions to be made by the PCC in terms of the land disposition,” said Isitt. “If there is still a decision, I want to have a role in it and try to shape the decision.”

Young said he’s not apposed to the sale of public land in principle, or in all cases.

“I thought it was highly likely I would disagree either with the disposition of a specific property or with the use of the proceeds,” he said.

PCC board members are not allowed to publicly voice their opposition to board decisions, explained Young. “A municipal representative in that position has only one recourse, and that is to resign.”

Municipal representatives on the PCC board “are seen to be representing residents,” said Young. “When we’re put in a position where we may have to represent other interests, that makes it really tough for us.”