Rachel French was shocked when she heard that Metchosin Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila had travelled to Mexico in December for a wedding.
But what surprised the Metchosin resident further was Kahakauwila defending her trip, saying that it was essential travel to connect with a business partner for her struggling business.
“A wedding isn’t essential travel,” French said. “People make mistakes, but the way you correct it is by owning up to them. The way she defended her behaviour is what has incited a lot of outrage. She has a responsibility to set an example. Who knows? Her constituents might have been more forgiving.”
French will be joining several Metchosin residents in calling for Kahakauwila’s resignation as deputy mayor at Monday’s council meeting on Zoom – the first one held since what Bev Bacon calls the ‘fiesta fiasco’.
The Metchosin farmer said she hasn’t stepped foot inside a friend or neighbour’s home since March 13, 2020.
Bacon spent the majority of December on her farm, eating mostly potatoes from her garden and meat from her freezer. She believes that Kahakauwila has lost public trust and said she wouldn’t mind seeing her step down as a councillor too.
Although an apology usually goes a long way, Shelley Donaldson says it’s too late.
Donaldson, who has an immunocompromised daughter, says Kahakauwila has “embarrassed and insulted” Metchosin residents, especially when “a lot of people have been making sacrifices.”
As a farmer, Donaldson said she’s cancelled several appointments to bring a clinician from Abbotsford to do check-ups on her horses. Meanwhile, French has had to cancel trips to New York City, Ecuador and Ladysmith last year, and an upcoming one to Yukon, due to provincial travel orders.
“Every time someone like her travels, it prolongs how long we will still have to stay apart,” said Donaldson. “Either you’re on the team or you aren’t. There’s a term that people say, ‘We’re all in this together.’ I don’t get a sense that Kyara is a part of that.”
Mayor John Ranns said although he expects a flurry of upset residents at Monday’s meeting, he has no plans to remove Kahakauwila as deputy mayor or a councillor.
He said he’s received hundreds of emails from upset people, within and outside of Metchosin.
Ranns pointed out that he thinks Kahakauwila “made a dumb move, and has paid the price more than anyone will ever believe.” He added that he doesn’t condone her trip, but wants to support her after she “made a bad call.”
“Lighten up,” said Ranns. “Everybody is entitled to one mistake. Nobody condones what she did, but if every elected representative had to step down after making a bad decision, I would have never made it past our first term. Frankly, I don’t know why anyone would run for local office because I wouldn’t recommend it.”
Coun. Kahakauwila has not responded to requests for comment.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.