Changes are coming to the Northlands board from city council’s perspective. One of the things that prompted the change, was the potential of Northlands suing the city. The information came out in council’s debate about how the recruitment process for the Northlands board should be handled.
The issue was the arena deal, and the current board members who also sit on city council could have found themselves in a conflict of interest, from the city administration’s point of view.
“For instance, the Northlands board could have determined that they would sue the City of Edmonton,” lawyer Ann Jarman told Coun. Tony Caterina. “We dealt with that in the loan deferral so that is not now happening, but that was a potential, because the executive committee of the board of directors made the decisions in terms of their proceeding of lawsuits.”
Coun. Michael Oshry said there are many times council members, especially when budgets are involved serve two masters. Not just with Northlands, but any time money is involved.
“You can always create a conflict of interest, or a cheer leader when you’re sitting in all of those board meetings,” Oshry told 630 CHED News iNews880. “It’s hard then to go and disagree with what the board originally decided when you’re sitting at the council chamber seat so I think we have to look at all of them and determine if it’s appropriate to have a council representative on any of them.”
“I find sitting on these kind of boards, you are torn and it is tough to vote against something that they’re asking for when you have to go back to the board and sit there, so there is a soft pressure put on you. Northlands have done a good job of separating that but there is that sort of soft thing in the background there,” he said prior to the 12-1 vote that only saw Coun. Ben Henderson try to have council maintain one voting position on the Northlands board.
“I’m okay with nobody from council sitting on it,” said Coun. Ed Gibbons, a one time Northlands board member. “I believe thats the way it’s going to stabilize and move forward. I think we have to do that until we know how 2020 works.”
Council was also told the system will continue to see an MLA remain on the board. “I’m questionable about the province except that everybody wants the province on because they want grant money,” Gibbons said.
Some time next year council will review all agencies and boards on council participation. Oshry suspects Edmonton Police Commission will maintain having two members of city council on it, because the EPS is a direct city service.