Open letter to the mayor and council of Watson Lake:
For the past six months you have repeatedly rejected all proposals to designate a commercial business sector in our Official Community Plan.
Council is well aware that even Premier Gordon Campbell has enthusiastically recommended a proactive approach to commercial planning and development in Watson Lake as an important benefit to residents of northwestern British Columbia.
Unfortunately, for some unknown reason Dennis Fentie, our MLA and Yukon premier, seems reluctant to promote or encourage new business opportunities in Watson Lake, leaving residents to speculate as to why.
You have even adopted a sustainability plan proclaiming, “Good, sound land planning to allow for population growth and business opportunities is essential to maximizing our potential over the next few years.”
Why have you been rejecting these precepts for such a long period of time?
Each of you has sworn and subscribed an oath that you will not allow any private interest to influence your conduct in public matters. It would logically follow that, in the interest of fairness and justice, these principles should also be extended to members of your advisory committee. I remind you, once again, that it is not what is the law, but what is just and right in the eyes of reasonable men and women.
Mayor, on April 21st with only two other councillors present, you appointed Pat Irvin to your advisory committee just prior to finalization of our community plan.
By doing so, you appear to be supporting Irvin’s widely recognized opposition to the establishment of any new competing grocery outlets and, possibly, hotels as well.
In fact, Irvin’s appointment could very well represent an unfair and negative interference in town planning by indirectly involving Community Services Minister Archie Lang.
In fact, public records show Irvin holds a proprietary joint interest in one or more local business enterprises in association with Lang’s family, who is also believed to be strongly opposed to any proposals to develop a new commercial business district in Watson Lake.
I am reminded “A public office holder is in a conflict of interest when he or she exercises an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further his or her private interests, or those of his or her relatives or friends, or to improperly further another person’s private interests.”
Surely, council will agree that in fairness these principles should apply to all elected or appointed people involved in this matter.
Speaking on behalf of local residents, and all Yukoners who may wish to participate in anticipated excellent future business opportunities here in Watson Lake, I would emphasize that your confirmation of Irvin’s appointment is obviously not seen to be in the community interest.
By means of this letter I am attempting to inform Watson Lake residents of your decision through the media.
There can be no doubt whatsoever that when this appointment has been made known to them, it could well be viewed by a majority of residents as a protective and intentional abuse of the authority and trust reposing in each of you as the three dominating members of our town council.
In conclusion, acting as an advocate on behalf of the citizens and residents of the town of Watson Lake and in light of the forgoing, I would strongly recommend in the interests of justice and fair play that mayor and council rescind the appointment of Irvin to your Official Community Plan Advisory Committee at the next sitting of council.
Donald E. Taylor