A motion directing Langley City staff to review a weekend fundraising gala by Mayor Val van den Broek passed unanimously Monday, with the mayor calling it petty, while Coun. Teri James –the one who raised the matter – describing it as an issue of accountability.
James said the winter wonderland-themed event, held on Saturday, Jan. 25, was not endorsed by the City, as required under a “branding” policy adopted by the municipality.
“The use of the term, Langley City mayor’s gala, the City coat of arms, and the RCMP coat of arms was used in advertising, which suggests the event was an official City event,” James told council.
James’ motion called on staff to report on liability to Langley City in using the identifiers on advertising materials for a non-City event. She also asked for a financial report outlining all materials and in-kind costs to Langley City associated with the mayor’s gala – including RCMP costs.
Coun. Rudy Storteboom, who attended the gala, seconded the motion.
“It was a fun party, but council didn’t even really know about it until it was in the bag,” Storteboom explained.
“I am the mayor and I had a mayor’s gala,” van den Broek commented.
“So I apologize if I offended anyone.”
Council was informed in advance about the event, van den Broek insisted.
“I offered them the opportunity to volunteer and come on board,” van den Broek recounted.
“I find this absolutely petty,” the mayor added during Monday’s meeting.
“I’m sorry that it has come to this.”
Coun. Rosemary Wallace suggested the mayor could hold another gala, without using the City crest.
“I hope in going forward, we can just do everything how it should be done,” Wallace said.
Van den Broek then called the vote and raised her hand with the rest of council.
“I’m in favour of it as well,” van den Broek said.
After the meeting, James said the motion wasn’t personal, and was written by a majority of council.
“All but two,” James said, but declined to give names.
James said she raised the question of using the City coat of arms several weeks before the gala, in an email to the mayor.
“You can’t just do anything you want because you have a title,” James told the Langley Advance Times.
“This is about accountability.”
Following the vote, van den Broek said she did, in error, use a city crest in an ad thanking people for making the gala happen.
She said she found out it wasn’t allowed too late, so she is planning to run an apology advertisement.
“I get their point,” van den Broek commented.
As for concerns about costs, “I didn’t use any staff resources,” the mayor declared.
“It was all volunteer.”