Gabe Fourchalk, the mayor of the District of Wells, has resigned, citing a “perceived conflict of interest.”
In a four-page letter posted to the district’s Facebook page, Fourchalk said a “perceived conflict of interest” has made him unable to do his job as mayor, a post he has held since he was elected in 2018.
His personal Facebook page cites his job as an equipment operator at Barkerville Gold Mines (BGM). Barkerville Gold Mines is in the middle of an environmental review for expanding its operations in the Wells area.
“Whether or not you like the fact that BGM/ODV are here, they are a major part of this town, now, and in the future, and it is important to have the elected officials be a part of the decision-making process, as they are elected to do,” he wrote in the post. “If I cannot be a voice on that, then I must resign.”
Fourchalk noted the district council has received letters that call out his position with the mine, but said his position with BGM hasn’t prevented him from acting in the best interest of the community as a whole.
“It makes me angry that a few letters have taken away the voice of the community members that voted for me to act in the best interest for the town,” he wrote.
“I feel sad for the community members that did their due process by way of democracy, voted, and now don’t have their voice that they voted for.”
The Community Charter, which provides the statutory framework for all municipalities in B.C., maintains local officials who have a financial interest in a matter must declare that interest.
“Following their declaration, they may not participate in discussions, vote or exercise influence on the matter,” reads the ethical standards section of the BC Government website.
Fourchalk wrote he needed to choose his livelihood over the mayorship. He has one year left in his four-year term as municipal elections are slated for 2022. The most recent Statement of Financial Information report posted on the district’s website was for 2017-18. At that time, the mayor earned just under $9,000. He also serves on the Cariboo Regional District Board.
“Tell me how does an elected official work in a small town and not be in a ‘potential conflict’ in some way or another?” he asked in his letter.
“I could understand a ‘direct conflict’ in certain situations, however not just from a simple job. This is a broken system.”
Mandy Kilsby will be acting mayor for the district until a by-election set for early 2022.
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