From left, Coun. Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff, Coun. Maria McFaddin, Coun. Florio Vassilakakis, CAO Chris Barlow, Mayor Bruno Tassone, corporate services director Tracy Butler, Coun. Cherryl MacLeod, Coun. Dan Rye, and Coun. Bergen Price.

Castlegar mayor refuses to divulge activities at municipal conference

Bruno Tassone attended annual FCM in Quebec City but won’t say what he learned there

Castlegar’s mayor is refusing to answer questions about his activities during a recent trip to Quebec City.

The Castlegar News asked the mayor and five councillors who attended the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference at the beginning of June for a list of conference sessions they attended and also if they attended any extra tours or activities organized as events for delegate companions.

Councillors Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff, Florio Vassilakakis, Maria McFaddin and Dan Rye responded with their lists, but Mayor Bruno Tassone and councillor Cherryl MacLeod refused to provide any information. Councillor Bergen Price did not attend.

Tassone told the Castlegar News he will not be providing an accounting of his activities.

“I will not be giving a report to council, because I didn’t go as the mayor of Castlegar,” said Tassone. “I went as the representative of RDCK, who pays all of my expenses.

“That is who paid my bill, the RDCK — not the taxpayers of the community.”

Tassone said he is not sure why reporting on this trip should be any different from the other activities he conducts as an RDCK representative.

“I go to every regional district meeting and I don’t bring a report back on everything I do within the regional district,” said Tassone.

“I’ve got nothing to hide. I just have to draw a line in the sand somewhere to where I have to be accountable to who.”

Even though MacLeod declined to provide a list of her activities, she did provide a report to council about some of the things she learned.

During Monday’s city council meeting all of the delegates except Tassone gave reports about the conference.

MacLeod was asked about what specific sessions she attended as her report did not list them.

MacLeod didn’t give a complete list, but did say, “I went to the breakfast things and met people, to the political speaker person — whatever morning that was, I went on a study tour about restoration …”

The mayor then said he would not allow any further questioning along those lines.

Vassilakakis asked, “Are you trying to stop me from asking what another councillor did at this, and protect her from this line of questioning?”

The mayor said he thought the line of questioning was inappropriate, and should be done in camera, not in public.

Vassilakakis replied: “I think the public deserves to know what all of our councillors did.”

Later, when the mayor told council he would not report on his activities because he was representing the RDCK, Heaton-Sherstobitoff responded “But you are still a director as the City of Castlegar.”

She then asked “What did you go to?”

Tassone responded: “I am not here to debate that. If you want to read the agenda on the RDCK website when it comes out, then you will know what I did.”

After the meeting, a further discussion took place between several councillors and the mayor.

Vassilakakis and Heaton-Sherstobitoff challenged the mayor about his conference participation, asking him about attending cruise and spa activities.

According to the FCM website, those activities are billed as tours for companions of conference delegates and took place for about four to five hours each during the same period that study tours and workshops were taking place.

Tassone said he would not discuses the matter, and would not confirm nor deny that he attended the events in question.

The debate around the FCM conference is not likely to end soon, as Vassilakakis introduced two notices of motion regarding attending future conferences.

The first asks that councillors and mayor be required to submit detailed reports and travel expense documents within 30 days of attending any conference or seminar.

The motion states as the public funds the events, it is important to show they are getting value for their money, build public trust and provide accountability.

The second asks that a bylaw amendment be made to limit attending FCM to just once a term (it currently allows twice) and that no more than two delegates attend in any given year.

All of the councillors’ written reports to council can be found in the June 10 agenda package at castlegar.ca.

All delgates except McFaddin brought guests along, but all reported that the related expenses were covered personally.

None of the delegates who submitted lists attended any companion tours.

FCM diary

Here are the events that Castlegar’s city councillors reported attending at the Federation of Canadian Municipalties conference in Quebec City:

Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff

Political Keynote Speech — Justin Trudeau

Political Keynote Speech — Andrew Scheer

Political Keynote Speech — Jagmeet Singh

Political Keynote Speech — Elizabeth May

Study Tour – Assistance for People in Vulnerable or Crisis Situations

Study Tour — Restoring Public River Access

Workshop — Affordable housing crisis

Workshop — Festivals and other community events

Rural plenary — Building Vibrant Rural Economies

Resolutions Plenary

Presidents Forum — Looking Forward to the 2019 Election

Official Trade Show opening and reception

Trade Show

Conference opening ceremony

Election of the Third Vice President

Annual General Meeting and Elections

Maria McFaddin:

Political Keynote Speech — Justin Trudeau

Political Keynote Speech — Andrew Scheer

Political Keynote Speech — Jagmeet Singh

Political Keynote Speech — Elizabeth May

Study tour — Public Art, a Part of Everyday Life

Study tour — Assistance for People in Vulnerable or Crisis Situations

Workshop — Media and Communication

Workshop — Smart City

Workshop — Sustainable farming

Workshop — Tech space

Rural plenary — Building Vibrant Rural Economies

Resolutions Plenary

Presidents Forum — Looking Forward to the 2019 Election

Official Trade Show opening and reception

Conference opening ceremony

Trade Show

Annual General Meeting and Elections

Election of the Third Vice President

British Columbia selection of candidates for positions on FCM

Closing Plenary

Dan Rye:

Political Keynote Speech — Justin Trudeau

Political Keynote Speech — Andrew Scheer

Political Keynote Speech — Jagmeet Singh

Political Keynote Speech — Elizabeth May

Study Tour – Quebec City where Public Art is part of everyday life

Study Tour — Restoring Public River Access

Workshop — Legalized Cannabis

Workshop — Responding to the drug crisis in our communities

Resolutions Plenary

Rural plenary — Building Vibrant Rural Economies

Presidents Forum — Looking Forward to the 2019 Election

Official Trade Show opening and reception

Trade Show

Conference opening ceremony

Mayor’s Welcome Reception

Annual General Meeting and Elections

British Columbia selection of candidates for positions on FCM

Closing plenary

Florio Vassilakakis:

Political Keynote Speech — Justin Trudeau

Political Keynote Speech — Andrew Scheer

Political Keynote Speech — Jagmeet Singn

Political Keynote Speech — Elizabeth May

Study Tour – Quebec City, where public art is part of everyday life

Study Tour — Restoring Public River Access

Workshop — Media and Communications

Workshop — Legalized Cannabis

Rural plenary — Building Vibrant Rural Economies

Presidents Forum — Looking Forward to the 2019 Election

Youth Forum — engagement tactics for the 21st century.

Official Trade Show opening and reception

Trade Show

Conference opening ceremony

Mayor’s Welcome Reception

Election of the Third Vice President

Annual General Meeting and Elections

British Columbia selection of candidates for positions on FCM

Closing plenary

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