Summerland’s municipal council will proceed with a four per cent property tax increase this year, but the deadlines for property tax payment have been extended. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Summerland’s municipal council will proceed with a four per cent property tax increase this year, but the deadlines for property tax payment have been extended. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Summerland councillor’s letter to media draws disappointment from colleagues

Statements about solar project did not violate ethical or conduct standards

Some members of Summerland council are disappointed after one councillor aired his disapproval, for a city project, in local news media.

Coun. Richard Barkwill recently submitted a letter to local media, taking issue with the municipality’s solar project. The project had earlier been approved by council, and in July, the site for the project was approved in a public meeting.

In addition to his letter which appeared in area media, Barkwill also had a notice of motion included on the Feb. 22, Summerland council agenda, asking for a statement to be included on the question and answer page on the municipal website section on the solar project. The change was to add the statement, “The solar panels will create at least four times the greenhouse gases as our existing hydropower for the equivalent electricity production.”

READ ALSO: Summerland council reaffirms solar project in 4-3 vote

READ ALSO: LETTER: Summerland solar project will create greenhouse gases

While the notice of motion was withdrawn before the council meeting, other members of Summerland council expressed their disappointment with the way Barkwill had presented his objections to the solar project.

“I can’t believe he has been allowed to do this. I believe that this is an ethical problem,” said Coun. Erin Carlson. “Council debate happens at the council table, not in the media.”

However, Barkwill defended his actions. “This was new information and it should be brought forward to correct the record. This is what I’ve done,” he said. “I felt that the record had to be corrected.”

Graham Statt, Summerland’s chief administrative officer, said discussions about a council decision should take place at a council meeting.

“The best place to dialogue about any of these things is at the council table,” he said.

However, he added that there is nothing to prevent a council member from taking concerns to the news media, and there is no code of conduct violations in doing so.

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municipal politics