Just over a month after she was acclaimed, Joscelyn Barnard announced her resignation from the District of North Saanich council on Thursday claiming manipulation, litigation threats and an “unhealthy democracy.”
In an email, Barnard said she had volunteered to take a councillor position – her first term – because of “the lack of any other community members willing to do the job.”
Each of the six councillors in North Saanich were acclaimed in the Oct. 20 election.
Barnard called on Minister of Municipal Affairs Selina Robinson, North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr and the B.C. Office of the Ombudsperson to audit what she called “the corporate culture and practices of the District.”
Barnard said she listened to “a common theme of frustration” from people who also expressed a lack of accountability during the election.
“What I found … was a system that can be manipulated to silence persistent councillors and suppress difficult information through the use of in-camera meetings, threats of publicly funded litigation, severance demands, and labour laws,” she wrote.
“This is not a healthy democratic environment for staff, council, or the public and I will not be a part of it.”
She called for changes to the community charter to improve accountability and transparency.
Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, Orr said he would need time to discuss the matter with staff before commenting, having received Barnard’s resignation the same time media did.
“I just want to be mindful of some aspects of this,” said Orr, just a month into his mayoral duties. “This is something I don’t think most mayors have dealt with, so we’re in a unique situation.
He said a specific process has to be followed in this situation, likely referring to the potential for a by-election.