Councillors in Langley, B.C., have voted their own mayor out of her seat with the senior regional board, an exceedingly rare demotion the mayor claims was fuelled by years of political infighting and personal vendettas.
The City of Langley councillors chose during an annual election last Monday to have Coun. Gayle Martin take the mayor's place as their representative at the Metro Vancouver board moving forward.
It means Mayor Val van den Broek is now the only regional mayor who will not represent her municipality when the board meets to make key policy decisions.
The mayor said the vote was a personal rebuke.
"There was no reason to remove me ... Monday night was just another vote in 'anti-Mayor Val,'" van den Broek said.
The Metro Vancouver board votes on how to deliver regional-scale services — like parks, transportation and waste management — to the area's 21 municipalities.
Three council members were nominated for the board seat on Monday: van den Broek, Martin and Coun. Rosemary Wallace. Wallace said the vote went 4-3 in Martin's favour.
Van den Broek had been sitting on the board for two years, having taken the seat after winning election in October 2018. Her key priority was a SkyTrain extension to Langley, but she will no longer be able to vote on such issues at board meetings without her seat.
"My current council keeps trying to stop me from being mayor," van den Broek said.
"[Council has] never accepted the results of the municipal election since Day 1," she added. "I hear some council members say to me, 'You need to be taught a lesson ... You can't use your mayor title while you're not in council ... Women shouldn't be mayor ... you don't deserve to be mayor.'
"I feel citizens need to know what's actually going on."
Wallace said council long ago discussed revisiting who to have as board representative every year. She declined to comment about van den Broek's claims around conflict at city hall, and said she could not speak for other councillors.
"Whether I have a view on it or not, I'm not going to answer that because I don't want to throw my council under the bus ... I don't know what the motivation was with council [to vote for Martin]," Wallace said.
"Democratic process, be what it may, Coun. Martin was elected ... as a council, we're all just trying to work on a lot of things that are happening in our community."
Martin — the mayor's replacement on the board — and Coun. Paul Albrecht said in emails they could not comment on Monday's board vote because the meeting was "in camera," or behind closed doors.
The four remaining councillors have not responded.
Van den Broek said there is little she can do to regain her seat on the board. She said she will continue to attend Metro Vancouver board meetings, even though she will not be paid to do so.
"That's my job," she said.