Original Published on Aug 19, 2022 at 10:00

By Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A resolution from The Blue Mountains Coun. Paula Hope, to correct the record of a recent council vote regarding the Gateway attainable housing project, was defeated by council in a 5-1 vote.

At an emotionally charged meeting on Aug. 18, council voted against Hope’s lengthy resolution, which can be found on the meeting’s agenda, with Hope casting the only affirmative vote on the matter.

At one point in the proceedings the tension boiled over with Hope and Coun. Rob Sampson speaking over each other until Deputy Mayor Peter Bordignon (who chaired that portion of the meeting at the request of Mayor Alar Soever) restored order.

Hope brought forward the resolution after she said Soever and Sampson mischaracterized how she voted at council’s June 28 meeting, at which council decided to transfer the property at 171 King Street to the Blue Mountains Attainable Housing Corporation (BMAHC) for the Gateway project. At that meeting, after a substantial debate, council voted 6-0 (coun. Jim Uram was absent) in favour of the land transfer.

During the debate, Hope raised several concerns about the matter and at one point suggested the land transfer decision be deferred until the new council is elected in October, however she ultimately voted in favour of the transfer.

At the next BMAHC board meeting, both Sampson and Soever said that Hope had voted against the land transfer. Both have subsequently acknowledged the error and have apologized for what they said was a mistake on their part.

“I ask that my colleagues look at that and think about correcting that. It’s all about preserving the integrity of council,” said Hope.

The final point in Hope’s motion On Aug. 18 was for council to confirm the vote results on June 28 were 6-0 and recognize that “Mayor Soever, supported by Councillor Sampson” inaccurately reported the results at the housing corporation board meeting on July 7. 

Soever and Sampson both reiterated their apologies at the latest council meeting.

“Certainly I did make a mistake and I did apologize,” said Soever.

“We all make mistakes. All of us. I honestly didn’t believe you voted for it. I had to go back and check,” said Sampson.

In response, Hope said she appreciated the apologies and added it was important for council to correct the record of what happened with the vote and for there to be consequences for incorrect information being repeated after the vote.

“The problem here is we have two members of council going around and misrepresenting a vote of a colleague. That’s the problem. We don’t know how many members of the public were told that I had voted against a motion I hadn’t voted against,” said Hope. “Is that going to be an appropriate behaviour that council members can simply misrepresent the votes of their colleagues and there are no consequences?”

Those comments from Hope prompted an emotional reaction from Sampson with him and Hope trading points of order.

“This councillor has just said in a public forum that we are misrepresenting her. That is totally inaccurate,” said Sampson.

“What were you telling other people?” Hope asked in response.

Bordignon had to intervene to restore order.

“Now we’re getting into political warfare for no reason and that doesn’t bode well at the council table,” he said.

Soever added that he had not communicated the incorrect information about the result of the June 28 vote beyond the BMAHC board meeting.

The debate concluded with the motion being defeated by council in a 5-1 vote. Coun. Jim Uram was absent.

This item reprinted with permission from CollingwoodToday.ca, Collingwood, Ontario