Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy admits to removing an HST sign, but said it's because it had fallen into a ditch near his property on Highway 99.
Sturdy said a series of signs had been installed near his North Arm Farm property and one of them, close to his driveway, had fallen.
"I located it farther away from the entrance to my property," Sturdy said.
"So I did not deface or steal or destroy the sign. I picked it up out of the ditch and I put it back but farther away from the entrance to my property because there's sort of the implication, which I hope to avoid, that the North Arm Farm, and hence me, is supportive of the anti-HST campaign."
But in a news release Kelly Carson, the Fight HST organizer for the Sea to Sky corridor, said she learned that Sturdy removed a "Yes to Extinguish the HST" sign and placed it in his vehicle on that morning of July 13. She called it "despicable" action that someone "of his standing" would take such an action.
Carson goes on to say that the incident demonstrates how close Sturdy is to government.
"He's marginalizing the very people who voted for him," she said in the release. "I'm sure he didn't mind being associated with people who oppose the HST during his election. I thought municipal politicians were supposed to represent all the people regardless of their political views."
Sturdy denied that moving the sign had anything to do with his feelings about the tax. Speaking about his position on the HST, Sturdy said that as a farmer he supports the tax, which he called a "dramatic improvement" on the PST when it comes to agriculture, but he admitted it was an error for him to move it.
"In retrospect it was certainly an error on my part to pick it up and touch it," he said. "It was an error on my part to touch it at all and I should have left it in the ditch. You can be quite certain that that's what I will do in the future.
"I do not have a pro-HST sign and I don't want an anti-HST sign either because as a business that is open to the public on a daily basis, having signage that is highly political in nature is something that you're inevitably going to alienate people, so it just doesn't make sense to have it in place, for or against, adjacent of your operations."
The incident comes a few months before a municipal election. Sturdy, a two-term mayor, didn't confirm whether he'll be running again, but he nevertheless acknowledged that moving the sign could have some impact on the electorate deciding whether or not to vote for him again.
"That certainly will be something for the electorate to decide on," he said. "It's quite clear, Ms. Carson has never been a fan of Jordan Sturdy, but you know, it's not for me to speculate on. It's really ultimately for the electors to decide."