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Councillor Morino questions decisions validity

By Robin Wark for the Sooke News Mirror, March 25, 2003

Sooke Coun. Tom Morino is concerned a resolution passed by his fellow district elected representatives last week might not be valid.

At a March 17 special meeting, council accepted in principle a draft letter that set out the districtís plans in regard to a bylaw regarding newly created lots less than one hectare being serviced by sewers, if the proposed community system is a reality. The meeting, Mayor Ed Macgregor said, was needed to keep the districtís application for the $17.5 million project on the table for a Canada-B.C. Infrastructure program grant.

But Morino, at Mondayís council meeting, questions the validity of the resolution the provincial government is now acting on. His concerns are linked to a pair of special meetings being called last week.

At a March 10 council meeting it was decided to hold a special meeting on March 13 at 7 a.m. However, a notice of the meeting was not posted outside the municipal hall at least 24 hours before the event as required. Members of the public raised this point during the public question and comment period that precedes councilís discussion of business at each meeting.

It was decided to dissolve the meeting and to meet again on March 17.

But Morino, a lawyer who specializes in criminal cases, questions if, under the Municipal Act, council could make the decision to hold another special meeting.

The act states a special meeting can be called "(a) by the Council at a meeting of Council; and (b) at any time by the Mayor or Chief Administrative Officer."

Morino feels if the March 13 meeting was improperly constituted then it was not a meeting and then it was not possible for council to decide to meet again. This would then make the March 17 meeting and the business conducted at it invalid, he feels.

The first year councillor expressed his concerns when council considered the adoption of the minutes of a variety of meetings, usually a quick process with little, if any, discussion. But Morino first wondered if there was no meeting March 13 how could there be minutes for it? He later expressed his other concerns.

Council, with only Morino voting against them, adopted both sets of minutes.

Sooke Administrator Tom Day said during Mondayís meeting he feels the matter was handled correctly. He said the idea behind having minutes from the March 13 meeting was to note the concerns of the public and what happened. The administrator also feels council proceeded properly to deal with the issue at hand. A management committee was meeting later on March 17 to look at the grant applications.

"Itíd be impossible to do business if an emergency comes up and you have to wait two weeks to call a meeting," Day said.

The letter, in question, states the district will continue with its Liquid Waste Management Plan process, which will include a settlement suitability analysis for non-sewered areas. The data coming out of this process will be used to amend the communityís Official Community Plan, zoning and possibly subdivision bylaws. The province had previously been asking for a bylaw that would ensure any newly created lots less than one hectare would connect to the sewer system.



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