Editorial: Vagramov's leave creates challenge for council

The new, smaller Port Moody council will have trouble passing any important legislation where votes are split

Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov’s cynical and blatantly political Hail Mary pass to get his allies on council declared acting mayors in his absence while he faces a sexual assault charge may not have gone exactly as planned.

Once the remaining councillors sat down to hammer out a rotation for acting mayor and their seconds at Tuesday’s special council meeting, a plan of sorts emerged, although councillors had to resort to a random system of picking a name out of a glass to get any sort of agreement.

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But getting his agenda passed with this weak-mayor system will prove challenging.

Ignoring for a moment the personalities involved and the fact that a long-serving, hard-working and competent councillor, Diana Dilworth, was left off of Vagramov’s scheme, and shut out of the current rotation, the new, smaller council will be challenged passing any important legislation where votes are split.

Yes, day-to-day business can move forward with first councillors Meghan Lahti, Hunter Madsen and Steve Milani at the helm, although the latter hardly has the necessary experience.

But there will be severe constraints placed on Vagramov's allies on council to push forward their agenda because without the mayor’s deciding vote, many resolutions could fail.

That’s not to say non-controversial rezonings or policy can’t more forward — they certainly can.

Even with Vagramov gone, Port Moody council is not expected to drop the green agenda that made it one of the first cities in the region to adopt an environmental checklist for new development, or establish Bert Flinn Park in the first place — in the 1990s — after a massive housing plan was nixed.

Nor is council likely to soft-pedal issues of climate change.

After all, it was PoMo council that put forth resolutions in recent years to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association that called for a divestment of fossil fuel investments and wanted people living in condo towers to be allowed to hang washing on their balconies.

But when it comes to how taxpayers’ money is used or any radical shift in policy direction, motions will likely fail unless the newer, inexperienced councillors — Vagramov’s allies — can win over at least one of the council veterans.

The reverse is true for major developments seeking the go-ahead. But that scenario was what some voters chose when they elected Vagramov.

But it’s the controversial removal of the David Avenue right-of-way, the future of the Ioco townsite and the removal of Ioco Road from the major road network, issues that Vagramov championed, that will likely have to wait for his return.

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