Did Max Lentz make a mistake when he accepted free accommodation from one or more Blue River resorts, hotels or motels?
During an all candidates’ forum held in Blue River last Monday evening, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District director for Thompson Headwaters (Area B) said he had taken complimentary rooms a few times.
Lentz lives in Kamloops and must travel to Blue River to communicate with the people he represents on the TNRD. Because the regional district does not reimburse him for the trips, he must pay for them on his own.
Lentz made the statement in reply to a question raised by former longtime Area B director Steve Quinn.
Quinn asked Lentz if it was true that he had accepted free accommodation from any local business, and listed nearly all those in Blue River that offer rental accommodation.
The former TNRD director was concerned because, during Lentz’s three years on the regional district board, he might have voted on issues that involved those businesses that gave him the free places to stay.
He gave a temporary re-zoning recently passed for a manufactured home park in Blue River as one example.
In his response, Lentz did not deny that he had voted on the re-zoning, but said that the Blue River economy had benefited as a result.
According to B.C.’s Community Charter, a local elected local official must not, directly or indirectly, accept a fee, gift or personal benefit that is connected with the member’s performance of the duties of office.
There are some exceptions, such as a gift or personal benefit received because of the protocol or social obligations that normally accompany the office.
However, if the elected official receives such a gift that exceeds $250 in value, or gifts from one source that total over $250 in value during one year, the elected official must file a disclosure statement.
A person who contravenes the sections on receiving and reporting gifts could be disqualified from holding office, unless the contravention was done inadvertently or because of an error in judgment made in good faith.
According to Liz Cornwell, TNRD deputy clerk and manager of community services, the regional district has nothing on file from director Lentz in terms of disclosure of gifts.
* * *
Editor’s Note: The following letter is Max Lentz’s response to the above article –Editor, The Times:
I will clarify this for you. As I mentioned at the forum, I did vote in favor of the temporary permit for this manufactured home park, but I did it on a request from TransAlta and not from the owner of the park.
A TransAlta manager from Calgary called me and asked for assistance to forward names and contact information on all accommodation businesses in Blue River. They were going to have over 220 employees in the area that summer to build the run of the river project. I forwarded all of this information and their general contractors made their own contacts in the community. Later I heard from TNRD staff that the property owner had made an application for temporary re-zoning of the park to allow for contractors employees to park their own RV units.
The owner of the park was willing to assist all general contractors and Blue River in general to allow as many workers as possible to live and support all local businesses instead of having these people go to Valemount.
Since this initiative was specific for this one reason only, I am not in conflict nor was it a mistake to try and support all of the businesses in Blue River.
However, I would like to say that the re-zoning process took too long to implement and the desired results never happened. Also this one re-zoning application is the only thing that was voted on for this landowner in the three years of my term.
Max Lentz, TNRD director
Area B (Thompson Headwaters)