The regular monthly meeting of the Happy Valley-Goose Bay town council ended abruptly last week, after Deputy Mayor Bert Pomeroy called for an adjournment following heated debate over whether Coun. Jackie Compton Hobbs could introduce a motion that wasn’t on the agenda and whether Pomeroy could object to the introduction of the motion.
The motion was regarding the Kelland Drive extension, which has been a controversial topic in council chambers before, with members of council divided on the issue.
Compton Hobbs introduced a motion to extend the Kelland Drive extension buffer zone to 30 metres, which was seconded by Coun. Lori Dyson-Edmunds.
Pomeroy said as per "Robert’s Rules of Order" that he could object to the motion being brought to the floor.
The debate began to get heated from there, with Compton Hobbs insisting that since the motion had been brought forward, council had to discuss it, referencing a discussion she had with officials in the Department of Municipal Affairs.
Mayor Wally Andersen tried to call for a recess to get clarification on the process, but Compton-Hobbs interjected.
“So, I guess it means I’m lying if I called Municipal Affairs and asked them and they told me, obviously, what I’m saying is lies, according to you then, Mayor,” she said.
Andersen said again that he just wanted clarification on the process, and a back and forth ensued between the two.
“I don’t know who the mayor is here anymore,” Compton Hobbs said. “You’re not making decisions, your left hand over there is.”
Pomeroy called for an adjournment and it was granted, with Dyson-Edmunds and Compton Hobbs voting against the motion. As Andersen was calling for order, Dyson Edmunds said they were being "shut down," and Compton Hobbs said, “This is what we’re dealing with community, I hope you’re listening, this is what we deal with in the back rooms, the deputy mayor speaks and it's shut down.”
The live feed of the meeting was shared on social media and garnered a lot of comments, with some supporting Compton Hobbs and Dyson-Edmunds and others critical of the lack of decorum in the council chamber.
Stan Oliver, former deputy mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, spoke with SaltWire Network about the meeting and said over the years he’d seen tempers flare up on more than one occasion.
“It shouldn’t have been like that last night,” he said. “First off, I do think the mayor and deputy were wrong. She brought a motion, and it should have been discussed. Sometimes people are passionate about issues and it takes over conversation. The mayor should have taken control of the meeting, in my opinion, and shouldn’t have let it get that far.”
Oliver said there were other items on the agenda that weren’t dealt with that would need to be done, and council will have to a call a special meeting about the unfinished business.
Happy Valley-Goose Bay resident Elizabeth Rice also listened to the livestreamed meeting, which she said, “seemed personal.” She said she didn’t know there was so much animosity between the mayor and council, and wasn’t surprised the meeting was ended early.
“It’s no wonder they can’t reach an agreement or consensus. I wouldn’t work with someone yelling across the floor in a non-professional manner,” she said in a message.
SaltWire contacted the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Compton Hobbs for comment on the issue, but did not receive any new information by deadline.
Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram