At the first council meeting since COVID-19 closure, the village of Sayward witnessed its fair share of drama. Submitted photo

Belligerence but no answers as Sayward on fourth mayor in four months

First open council meeting since COVID-19 reveals few answers for troubled north Island community

The first open council meeting in months shone little light on the issues behind the troubling turnover of mayors this year in Sayward.

But it did provide ample evidence that all is not well in the small north Island community.

Sayward’s July 14 council meeting took an ugly turn when a council member stood up with clenched fists after a heated exchange with one resident, and another resident was told to leave the meeting after another set of questions led to flaring tempers.

One thing that was evident at the council meeting – the first held since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March – was that Sayward residents have a lot of unanswered questions.

RELATED: New Sayward library to open in December after sudden closure in 2017

The meeting was held at the Kelsey Recreation Centre and acting mayor Norm Kirschner — who recently became the village’s fourth mayor since March — and fellow councillors declined to comment on or respond to most questions that the audience asked.

Residents questioned the council about the lack of virtual council meetings during the pandemic, financial audits for 2019 not being made available to the public, the ousting of the previous acting mayor after a brief two-week stint, and more.

Residents also asked about recordings and minutes of the meetings that were reported missing from the village office. They were told that the RCMP has been investigating the matter and no further comment was forthcoming.

The village has also been without a CAO since Lisa Clark left in March, shortly after long-time Mayor John MacDonald retired and his replacement Joyce Ellis followed suit a week later. The council said that while all employment issues will be discussed in-camera, they had approached head hunters and were waiting for a candidate to sign the contract.

To add to the woes, due to delayed work on the Newcastle Creek dam the village may have to return the grant money they recieved.

Residents also expressed displeasure about being kept in the dark for months about an ongoing real estate project by M.K. Adama Enterprises in Sayward. For months, untimely blasts rattled the foundations of houses in the village and the residents said they were given no information or “direct answers.” Citizens were also concerned as to whether the project would affect Sayward’s frail water system and septic treatment facilities.

RELATED: Another month, another mayor for Sayward

A village of 311 residents, Sayward’s local government saw four mayoral changes within a span of three months.

Starting with the resignation of MacDonald on March 13, to the vote of no confidence against its previous acting mayor, Bill Ives, in June, residents of the village have witnessed rapid and unexplained changes.

Currently, Kirschner presides over the council after being appointed on June 24. He will remain in charge until elections are held to appoint a new mayor.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

municipal politicsSayward

Just Posted

So Vancouver Island, you want to defund your police?

Examining what a nearly $10 million RCMP contract gets the people of Campbell River

Opioid crisis and COVID-19 pressing issues for mid-Island’s new medical health officer

Dr. Mike Benusic has been working in his new role with Island Health since July 2

Textured mats at Saanich intersections guide pedestrians with visual impairments

Yellow ‘tactile tiles’ make crossing busy intersections safer, District says

Vancouver Island officials can ‘only educate and encourage’ people to social distance

Leaders plead for education, as municipality lacks authority to enforce social distancing in public

Throwback: Parksville Makerspace shows off old Commodore 64 computer

Open house takes place Aug. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Need a doctor in Sooke? You may be in luck

In anticipation of recruiting more doctors, medical clinic accepting applications for a waitlist

Poles mark growing bond between BC Hydro, Campbell River First Nations

Totem poles placed on the John Hart dam site a symbol of a stronger relationship

COVID-19: Modified beach volleyball a hit in Parksville

Organizer happy to get popular summer game going

Nanaimo Fringe Festival productions adapt to new online format

10th annual festival to be live-streamed due to COVID-19

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

Most Read