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Squamish Oceanfront appointee declines position

Paul Lalli accuses Patricia Heintzman of electioneering

Pique, Nov. 3, 2011

There were stern words from members of Squamish Council following news that former Squamish Oceanfront Development Corp. (SODC) CEO Drew Stotesbury isn't interested in serving on the SODC board of directors.

Mayor Greg Gardner shared a note from Stotesbury informing Squamish Council on Tuesday (Nov. 1) at a regular council meeting of his decision.

Stotesbury's choice to decline the appointment by the District of Squamish (DOS) came one week after his appointment was announced. Stotesbury was named along with Gardner, Councillor Paul Lalli, Bill McNeney, Matt Fraser and Gregg Smyth. Gardner and Lalli are not seeking re-election and have only two regular council meetings left in their term. In finalizing the board appointments at a meeting last week, Councillors Patricia Heintzman and Bryan Raiser voted against the appointments citing concerns over the optics of the appointments of Gardner and Lalli.

When word got out about the appointments to the board a number of people expressed concern.

Gardner and Lalli left the council chambers on Tuesday during discussion of the appointments to avoid being in a conflict of interest. While Gardner and Lalli were out Councillor Corinne Lonsdale apologized for her role in allowing the vote to go ahead paving the way for Heintzman and Raiser to cast votes that made it clear the SODC board didn't have the support of all council members.

"I'm just sorry," Lonsdale said of her actions in chairing the meeting that exposed the split.

Following the meeting this week, Lalli was critical of Heintzman.

"I feel like Patty Heintzman has thrown me under the bus," Lalli said in an interview late Tuesday (Nov. 1) after the regular council meeting.

"I'm really upset that she didn't give me the courtesy as a colleague to tell me that she is not going to support me and I am so upset about that," said Lalli.

He added that Heintzman should have made an attempt to defer the issue. Instead, said Lalli, Heintzman pushed things forward by launching a motion to direct the DOS staff to seek consent from the nominees.

"Why did she even put it forth if she felt so compelled about the process? She should not have told staff to seek consent from those that are just appointed," said Lalli. "It's totally undermining the process. This is a $750 million project."

Lalli said the SODC board, the investment community and financial institutions are watching very closely.

"For political points for an election? To get elected? To do this at this point is totally unacceptable," Lalli said of Heintzman's choices.

"Her campaign slogan says 'let's soar,'" said Lalli. "Her leadership skills should soar."

Speaking after the meeting, Gardner said he was shocked by the split vote. While Gardner said he is going to let his SODC nomination stand with ongoing consideration.

Lalli said he's also sticking with the appointment.

"...The new council can deal with it," he said.

"This is not the way to conduct business," he said. "This is not professional."

Councillors Rob Kirkham and Doug Race also expressed frustration with the exposure of the split vote.

"It has to remain above any kind of politics," said Race of the SODC board. He said the message conveyed to the SODC board is that a deeply divided council is not necessarily standing behind the board.

"I don't think that I'd want to be on a volunteer board that was kneecapped right out of the starting gate," said Race. "I can only hope that we treat our other volunteers better than that."

Kirkham said he is concerned about the impression left with the investment community and developers.

"I'm a little bit worried that it might harm us in moving ahead with this project and getting a viable partner to come on board with us," said Kirkham.

Heintzman told her council colleagues that the split vote on the board appointments isn't the issue for the community.

"We could have all unanimously voted for it in the public and you'd still have outrage in the community about how this was dealt with," said Heintzman.

The SODC board is scheduled to meet on Thursday (Nov. 3).