Verbal dispute breaks out over North Westside

RDCO chairperson and directors exchange words at board meeting

The possibility of a North Westside governance review is creating friction at the Regional District of Central Okanagan.

The possibility of a North Westside governance review is creating friction at the Regional District of Central Okanagan.

Emotions are running high over the future of the North Westside.

Audio from the Oct. 13 Regional District of Central Okanagan board session highlights a sharp exchange between chairperson Gail Given and directors Wayne Carson and Mark Bartyik.

It all began when Given provided the board with an update on a meeting she had with Community Development Minister Peter Fassbender in September over North Westside governance.

Given told the directors that Fassbender offered a modified review to determine governance options for the North Westside.

“The minister has indicated he will participate. But for them to move forward, they require a board motion of support (for a study),” she said.

Given added that the regional district is waiting for more information from the ministry and ministry staff will appear before the board.

During her report, Given indicated that she and RDCO’s administrator asked Fassbender and his staff questions.

Carson, who represents the North Westside, openly challenged Given’s interpretation of the discussion with Fassbender, which he also took part in.

“The minister said he was approving a governance study for the North Westside and the province would fund that study,” said Carson.

Carson added that ministry staff are to appear before the RDCO board simply to answer questions, not to make a presentation, and a study doesn’t hinge on board support.

“After that question and answer, the board can provide a resolution if that’s the will of the board. I don’t remember this discussion of mini-reviews.”

Tension mounted when Bartyik, alternate director for Central Okanagan East, recounted his take on the session with Fassbender.

“You asked one question, that was it. There were no other questions asked,” he told Given, who then fired back at Bartyik.

“You better not be calling me a liar right here and now because I’m going to lose it,” she said.

But Bartyik held his ground.

“I was there. You can call me a liar if you like,” he said.

Both Bartyik and Carson say they will ask for a transcript of the discussion with Fassbender, a request Given doesn’t support.

“What we don’t need are transcripts and I don’t think transcripts were taken,” said Given, who went on to say, “I’m not going to discuss this further. This is my report to the board.”

Despite Given’s attempts to wrap up the debate, Bartyik wasn’t willing to ease off.

“I will not be silenced like this,” he said.

Given concluded by suggesting that various interpretations of the meeting with Fassbender are moot.

“What is important is ministry staff are coming to provide responses to board questions. Any questions further can be directed to ministry staff and do not require my opinion or your opinion of a meeting that took place,” she said.

Given added that the need for the RDCO board to provide a motion of support for a governance study can be confirmed with Fassbender.