Langley City council has voted to appoint Councillor Gayle Martin to the Metro Vancouver board of directors in place of mayor Val van den Broek, a move the mayor said was the result of continued behind-the-scenes political battles that began when she was sworn in two years ago.
The vote was taken Monday, Nov. 2 during an closed-door meeting of council held by video conference.
“I asked them why,” van den Broek told the Langley Advance Times on Monday, Nov. 9.
“Nobody could give me a reason.”
Van den Broek said she will continue to attend metro board meetings as a member of the public without voting rights, and remains on the Metro mayor’s council and several Metro committees.
Since her surprise victory over former mayor Peter Fassbender in the 2018 municipal election, van den Broek said she has had difficulty working with some council members.“Since day one,” van den Broek said. “Since my inauguration.”
“I’m not the mayor they wanted.”
Some of the conflict during closed-door sessions has amounted to “harassment and bullying,” the mayor maintained.
She said she was going public because she believes “citizens have a right to know.”
“I’m at my wit’s end,” she said.
Up till the Nov. 2 vote, the mayor was the Langley City representative, and Martin was the alternate who attended Metro meetings when the mayor could not. Coun. Paul Albrecht is the new alternate.
The City has one seat on the 40-member board.
Councillor Martin was guarded in her comments when she was reached on Monday, Nov. 9, describing the position as “an appointment that comes up yearly.”
Martin declined to respond to the mayor making comments beyond saying “well, she always does.”
Coun. Albrecht said it was “just a council process” and he was unsure how much he could say, given it was an in-camera meeting.
Coun. Nathan Pachal said councillors are restricted by law from discussing an in-camera meeting, but noted the two previous Langley City mayors, Ted Schaffer and Fassbender, did not serve as directors on Metro, and a number of other Lower Mainland communities have done the same.
All Metro councils vote to select directors, he added.
As for the mayor’s suggestion about internal fighting, Pachal said “I can’t comment on what’s going on in someone else’s mind.”
In his view, most disagreements at council have been about issues, not personalities, and most council discussions have ended in unanimous votes that include the mayor.
Coun. Teri James said the mayor’s statements were a “surprise.”
“I don’t know where the mayor’s allegations of unfair treatment are coming from,” James said. She noted council has voted to have van den Broek represent the city on other bodies such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Union of B.C. Municipalities, “pretty much anything she wants.”
Coun. Rosemary Wallace, who confirmed she voted for the mayor at the meeting, said she felt it would be better for “consistency” if van den Broek continued to represent the City at the regional authority.
Coun. Rudy Storteboom would only go as far as saying things have been “uncomfortable” at council.
He had suggested Wallace, instead of Martin, should be the council rep at the Metro board, but that failed to win support.
“I’d like us to have a fresh face at the director’s table,” Storteboom explained.
Storteboom added it was “not unusual at all” to be represented by someone other than the mayor at the Metro board.
“It [directorships] shouldn’t be exclusive to a select few,” Storteboom commented.