Councillors Scott Anderson and Kari Gares voiced concerns during the May 11, 2020, meeting of council about a letter penned by Mayor Victor Cumming to the province regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. (City of Vernon)

Mayor’s letter not up to snuff: Vernon city councillors

Some councillors unhappy requested letter not exactly what they’d asked for

A letter penned to the province by Vernon’s mayor didn’t satisfy a motion set forward by council and in Monday’s meeting, councillors Kari Gares and Scott Anderson let Mayor Victor Cumming know they weren’t pleased.

A motion was set forward during the April 27 council meeting authorizing the mayor to send a letter requesting information about the province’s plan to reopen, but while that motion was being recorded, the province announced their plan would be released in the following days.

Instead, the mayor sent a letter in support of the province’s plan to reopen the economy and thanked the provincial leaders for their guidance through the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: Vernon mayor ready for recovery, cautious of second COVID-19 wave

During the regular meeting May 11, Coun. Gares said although the letter sent by Cumming was factually correct and outlined several of the things the city and its residents have done to curb the spread of the virus, “the intent of council was not followed through.”

The mayor said the request from council was clear, but it was a moot point following the province’s announcement of its Restart Plan.

“I felt it was astute and politically sharp to not fire a shot across the province, but to indicate that we wanted to be involved and were keen for it to happen quickly and to assist with what we can here,” Cumming said.

Coun. Anderson said that’s not the point.

Quoting the Community Charter, Anderson said it’s the responsibility of the mayor to reflect the will of council, but the motion, which was to ask when a formal plan would be announced, was not met.

“It’s irrelevant whether or not at the same time the province said they’d announce a reopening,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the province has done a “fine job” handling the pandemic from a medical perspective, but “they’ve done an abysmal job when it comes to the economy.”

Meanwhile, Coun. Kelly Fehr said mayor’s letter “really highlighted Vernon,” and was a “great response.”

Coun. Dalvir Nahal suggested this incident prove as a learning opportunity. She said to avoid this, perhaps a copy of letters requested by council be forwarded to council before they are released.

The mayor allowed each councillor to speak to the matter, but when Anderson went to comment further, Cumming put a stop to the discussion so council could carry on with other matters.

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