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Belcarra byelection called for Jan. 23 to elect new mayor, councillor

Belcarra residents will go to the polls to replace former mayor Neil Belenkie and former councillor Rob Begg.
Belcarra village council prior to the resignations last month included Coun. Rob Begg (left) and mayor Neil Belenkie (centre).

Belcarra residents will go to the polls on Jan. 23 to elect a new mayor and councillor.

Monday, the village named Lisa Zwarn as the chief officer to oversee the byelection to replace former mayor Neil Belenkie and former councillor Rob Begg.

Candidates for both positions can be nominated between Dec. 8 and Dec. 18.

In a letter to village residents, dated Oct. 23, deputy mayor Liisa Wilder wrote that council will conduct municipal business with a basic quorum of three council members that also includes councillors Carolina Clark and Bruce Drake.

Coun. Wilder has since assumed the mayor’s role on TransLink. She is the alternate director on the Metro Vancouver regional board while Coun. Clark is the Metro Vancouver director and sits on the Metro Vancouver water committee. In addition, the pair has been appointed to the Sasamat Volunteer Fire Department board of trustees with Coun. Drake.

In the meantime, the mayor’s town hall meetings are cancelled until further notice.

Belenkie, who took over from longtime mayor Ralph Drew two years ago, quit Oct. 13 over allegations that councillors Clark and Drake were in conflict of interest after he said they moved to block a plan to sell village property. Belenkie said the two elected officials failed to recuse themselves from a Sept. 28 vote that he claims would have raised enough funds for a new water system to fight wildfires.

Belenkie accused councillors Clark and Drake of having direct conflicts because they each own property near the vacant plots that would have gone up for sale.

Both councillors have denied the conflict.

Former Coun. Rob Begg resigned shortly after Belenkie, citing “council disfunction.”

In her letter to residents, Wilder wrote, “We continue to work with our water committee and engineer in assessing the adequacy of our water supply, and once all the information is received along with recommendations, council will take action.”

She added, “While we carry on with the normal function of council, we are also conscious that major decisions should await by-election results and the restoration of a full council.”

The Nov. 9 council meeting was cancelled. The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 23.