Central Okanagan regional director censured by colleagues

Central Okanagan East director Patty Hanson censured and thrown off committees for divulging confidential information.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Patty Hanson as “Fraser”  in a reference to Hanson’s belief that not all CORD board members realize how valuable film commissioner Jon Summerland is to the valley’s film industry.

 

Original story (corrected):

It wasn’t a court of law but Central Okanagan East regional director Patty Hanson was censured Tuesday by a majority of her 11 political peers on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan board.

Her crime: Divulging confidential—albeit incorrect—information about the Okanagan Film Commission to its commissioner Jon Summerland earlier this year.

Only Hanson and two other board members—Central Okanagan West regional director Wayne Carson and Peachland Mayor Cindy Fortin—voted against the censure motion and another motion ordering her to write an apology to Summerland.

Hanson was also removed for a year from the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission board, as an alternate from the film commission and from the SIBAC board.

Hanson did not make herself available to the media following the decision by the board and her lawyer, Matthew Blow, said she had no comment.

Blow added, however, his client did have “significant” concerns about procedural fairness associated with the special board meeting reconvened Tuesday to consider the censure motion.

As for what Hanson plans to do in light of the board’s decision, Blow did not know, saying that would be up to his client.

For her part, RDCO board chair Gail Given said she hoped the board will now move on from the Hanson issue and get back to the business of running the regional district.

Hanson was accused of divulging information discussed at a closed-door strategic planning session the RDCO board held last May in West Kelowna.

At that meeting, the board members, including Hanson, agreed to keep the discussions confidential.

Following the meeting, Hanson—a former film commission board member who is now an alternate—met with Summerland who later said she told him she was the only regional director who saw the value of the film commission.

And, he said, she indicated the commission’s funding could be in jeopardy.

“I was freaked out,” Summerland told the board on Tuesday.

Given and several other directors said what Summerland was told by Hanson did not accurately represent their respective views of the film commission.

Hanson, while admitting to meeting with Summerland, said she was just trying to catch up on how the commission was doing and was trying to “coach” Summerland in explaining better to the board what he does.

Hanson said she believes not all board members realize how valuable Summerland is to the valley’s film industry.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Hanson also admitted having concerns that some municipalities are not paying what she considers their fair share of funding for the film commission, saying that’s what she was referring to when she talked with Summerland about future funding.

The meeting with Hanson left Summerland shaken and “fearing for his livelihood.”

He immediately took his concerns to Economic Development Commission executive director Corrie Griffiths, who he was told was at the strategic planning workshop and had also questioned the value of the film commission.

But Given said Griffiths was not at the strategic plaining workshop and has also denied questioning the value of the film commission.

At Tuesday’s censure meeting, some directors voiced their concern about Hanson’s behaviour.

“I’m don’t think she gets it,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran in arguing that censure and an apology to Summerland were enough of a punishment.

He, along with all five Kelowna representatives on the board, as well West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater and West Kelowna Coun. Duane Ophus, voted to include pulling Hanson off the RDCO committees for a year.

Lake Country Mayor James Baker, who voted for the censure and the apology, said he felt that was enough punishment.

This is the second time Hanson will have to publicly apologize for her behaviour as an RDCO board member.

In 2012, she made accusations against then-board chairman Robert Hobson over the issue of the Kelowna Mountain Development that had Hobson suggesting he may take legal action. As a result Hanson issued an apology.

But not all the board members were in favour of censuring and punishing Hanson.

Central Okanagan West director Wayne Carson said while the meeting with Summerland was likely ill-founded, the issue of what she said to him should have been dealt with by the regional district CEO “in-house.”

 

Kelowna Capital News