Letter: Village strife has many angles

This is in response to the editorial in the Wed. June 10th, Vol. 6 Issue 23 of the Rocky Mountain Goat. The current council held a free vote for the expenditure of the $20,000 for the audit on the Village. As democratically elected representatives of the community, it is their job to do so if they see the need.

The editorial goes on to say that this audit seems to be a witch hunt, which it’s not; it’s an impartial review done by the auditor. Our current CAO, Ms. Yanciw, who is subject to the review like any other employee, is not prey, which is what I’m presuming was meant by referral to a witch hunt.

The review did say, and I’m quoting from paragraph 2 of the article, that the opinion is the problem is the relationship between mayor, council and the CAO. They are as split as the opinions of this community.

That the mayor and CAO do not meet regularly is a huge problem as the editorial says. In your editorial you say, and I’m quoting from P5 that “losing Ms. Yanciw would be a huge blow to this community because of the loss of the team environment, other staff might follow her.” What team environment is this when the mayor and members of Council have problems with her and do not talk to her? Ms. Yanciw is supposed to be taking direction from Mayor and council and then doing the work that they have discussed in council meetings and assigned to the Village staff. If the CAO, Mayor and Council members have a problem with communication this is definitely not team work and is very detrimental to the well-being of our village.

The editorial also says how onerous the process and how costly looking for a new CAO is. I wonder where you got the information for that statement, as I can attest that it is not, as I have been part of the process before.

I do know the last Council hired a consulting firm which is very unusual in looking for a new CAO. I had a conversation with Ms. Yanciw about this before she went from an apprentice Deputy Corporate Officer with less than six months training under Tom Dall (at that time CAO of the Village) to being a CAO. What you do is put out an advertisement for a CAO on the government jobs website, you receive applications, Mayor and Council put together a hiring group who then shortlist the applications and interview them. They and the rest of Council then make a decision on who is the best candidate for the job, which is then offered to them. So the quote of “sheer cost and work of trying to find a competent replacement” is overblown. I have been part of hiring teams and it was not that difficult. I am curious to know what you think the “sheer cost” would be.

On P4 of the RMG, second to last paragraph, the editorial says “and make a decision on whether the mayor and CAO can start building a working relationship, or if one of them has to go.” I was stunned when I read this. The voting public of the Village of Valemount voted Mayor Townsend to the position of mayor democratically, not Ms. Yanciw. Mayor Townsend has 20 years of service to this community and an incredible background in government politics, let alone the contacts she has that do nothing but help to serve our community. She fought to get us into Columbia Basin Trust, which in turn helped pave roads, bring our citizens grants every year; we have safe drinking water, sewer, seniors housing just to let you know of some of her accomplishments. To intimate that perhaps she should go astounded me. I could not believe that Ms. Marshall who wrote this editorial would ever consider having the Mayor leave and the CAO stay. What would the majority of voters in this village have to say about that?

This editorial goes on to tell us about a petition which is out in the public domain for the purpose of obtaining signatures for the dismissal of Ms. Yanciw. What a sad state of affairs when the residents of our little village feel they have no other recourse but this. This petition is obviously a reflection of the people’s declining faith in their dealings with the CAO and the strife that has been generated during her time in this position. I think Ms. Yanciw should reconsider her position here. It seems that an awful lot of people have had bad dealings with her and that is not good for our village or businesses that are trying to get a foothold here. We need someone who can get the job done, interact with the mayor and Council, businesses and community, not just interact with staff, which is not in the job description.

We have had CAOs leave and go on to new communities when there has been a difference of opinion between them and their mayor and councils. They apply for jobs in different communities and go on to flourish there. When there is this much friction in both the Council Chambers and out in the business community, perhaps Ms. Yanciw in her dedication to good work, should move onto a position in another community. The turmoil being created is bad for business and the community as a whole.

Cynthia Piper
Valemount, BC

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