Municipalities of Sask. president comments on Hawaii trip, board said they are in dark about return plans

·2 min read

While Municipalities of Saskatchewan President Gordon Barnhart remains out of province on vacation, members of the organization said they are still in the dark about his plans to return.

Barnhart did comment on his vacation to Hawaii with his wife for a Jan. 19 story written by Gary Horseman, a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the Four-Town Journal. The Journal covers Saltcoats, the town where Barnhart is the mayor.

“For the last nine years, Naomi and I have spent Christmas and January in Maui. This year, with COVID-19, we took extra precautions to ensure that our health and the health of those around us would be safe,” Barnhart told the Journal.

“Before leaving for our vacation, I discussed with the Saltcoats council and administration how we could keep in contact while away. While in Maui, we both have been keeping up with work by email and phone, FaceTime and Zoom. As mayor of Saltcoats, I am in touch with councillors and administration on a daily basis. Arrangements have been made for me to fulfill my administrative duties by distance and I have been able to chair council meetings by Zoom. I take my role as mayor very seriously and believe I have been able to fulfill my duties to the best of my ability while still taking a holiday with my wife,” Barnhart continued.

The fact that Barnhart has been taking precautions while travelling is great, said Naicam Mayor Rodger Hayward, Municipalities of Saskatchewan’s vice-president of towns, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that elected officials like Barnhart should be taking public health orders to not travel seriously.

“As municipal leaders, we have a duty to lead by example, following all public health measures, orders and advisories. The premier has asked everyone to not do unnecessary travel and especially out-of-country travel,” he said.

In Barnhart’s comments to the Four-Town Journal, he really didn’t address that key issue, Hayward said.

While Municipalities of Saskatchewan is busy preparing for their upcoming virtual convention, Hayward said he is sure the president’s travel will be part of the conversation.

“It'll be a little different because it's a virtual convention and it’s our very first one, so we'll see how it goes. But I'm sure it'll be a topic there. The office of president and the rest of the executive is up for election this year, as well.”

Barnhart has not been in contact with Hayward as of Jan. 20. Hayward said he was in contact with only one other board member of Municipalities of Saskatchewan to give the same information that was given to the Four-Town Journal.

Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist