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New council debates use of election signs

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Election signs sparked the first public debate for the new council.

Keeping true to one of his election promises Councillor Ralph Forsyth asked staff to look at options that would ban or reduce the number of signs used during a municipal election.

Among his reasons for favouring a ban was his view that the signs do not meet Whistler’s vision of sustainability. They also invite vandalism, he said.

But Councillor Eckhard Zeidler, who was elected last month without putting up any signs, said he would not support a law banning signs as much as he would prefer candidates not use them. Legislating that into law he said is not in the spirit of democracy.

Councillor Bob Lorriman agreed, adding that the signs are the least expensive way to get the message out. He pointed to the impact of the votewhistler.com signs directing people to the non-partisan web site/blog, which became a forum for debate for election candidates as well as the general public during the campaign.

Mayor Ken Melamed said staff could perhaps find a middle ground, which would not see an outright ban but could limit the number of signs each candidate put up.

Lorriman argued that a report on election signs was not a prudent use of staff’s time and along with Councillor Gord McKeever voted against the motion.

Zeidler and the rest of council were convinced enough to ask for a staff report on the issue.

Forsyth raised his motion on the heels of a request from Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden asking staff to update Whistler’s voters list, which after reviewing she said still contains the names of not only residents who have moved away but also the names of those who have passed away. Staff said they are already working on a report addressing that issue.

Pay raise back on agenda

Council is talking again about the $19,000 per year salary for councillors.

The issue, which remained a sore point for some members of the last council, was prompted by Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden who asked for another remuneration review at the start of Monday’s council meeting.

Her request is a follow up from one of the last debates of the previous council, who struggled with the issue of giving themselves a pay hike despite a committee suggesting they don’t need any more money.

In their last meeting former Councillor Nick Davies was successful in getting the council to agree to recommend that the next council do an immediate review of their remuneration and implement the results immediately.

"The next council needs to have the courage to do what’s right," said Davies at the time.

Wilhelm-Morden said she listened to that debate with interest and has also followed the more recent discussions in the community surrounding the issue of Mayor Ken Melamed working as a ski patroller one day a week for Whistler-Blackcomb.

Her motion, to refer the matter of council compensation to the municipal Audit & Finance Standing Committee, was passed unanimously by council.

If the review results in any changes Wilhelm-Morden asked that they be included in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Later that evening Mayor Melamed informed council that he will continue to patrol one day a week throughout the winter. Most likely Fridays will be his patrol day.

He spent one day last week patrolling on Whistler Mountain and said: "It was great to be back."

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