YARMOUTH - Yarmouth town councillor Phil Mooney resigned from the Heritage Advisory Committee after saying a comment posted on Facebook by a fellow town councilor questioned his foresight and vision when it comes to heritage in the town
Councillor Phil Mooney resigned from the Heritage Advisory Committee after he said a comment posted on Facebook by another councillors questioned his vision and foresight for town heritage. He later withdrew his resignation. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
After some tense discussion at council’s June 12 meeting, Councillor Mooney withdrew his resignation after none of the other councillors wanted to see him resign. But Mooney did ask for clarification on what the parameters are when councillors post comments on Facebook dealing with council votes.
“Do they post it individually or do they post it as a councillor?” he asked, suggesting that when a vote doesn’t go your way on council, you still need to respect the ultimate decision of the council.
The comment related to the issue of the demolition of the Zion Baptist Church. Without naming the councillor who posted the comment, Mooney read it out loud. The comment started out by saying some councillors had tried to save the church by voting against its heritage deregistration but they were out-voted. He said the comment then read, “Some on council do care about heritage and want it saved so I don’t feel it’s fair to judge all councillors for not having enough foresight or vision because of some who don’t see the need to save our heritage.”
About the comment Mooney said, “I took that very seriously and I took it to heart and I felt it was highly inappropriate.”
With a shrinking congregation the trustees of the Zion Church had said they could no afford to repair or maintain the aging structure. Mooney said over the past five years there was a lot of discussion about the situation and there were attempts to save the building from demolition. He pointed out, though, even if the town council hadn’t voted to deregister the building it was just a matter of months before the trustees were going to be in a position to move forward with the demolition anyway, regardless of what the town said or did. He said the councillor who had posted the comment had never asked him questions about attempts to save the church in the past.
Although Mooney didn’t name her, Councillor Sandy Dennis told council that she was the one that had posted the Facebook comment.
“I never mentioned any names of who voted for it and who voted against it,” she said, saying she wasn’t hiding the fact that she wanted to see the church saved.
Mooney said the issue of Zion Church was difficult for everyone, and deciding its fate was especially hard. He spoke of other projects that the town has moved forward with that he said did show vision and foresight on his part.
But about Councillor Dennis’ comment he said, “If I don’t have enough foresight or vision for sitting on the heritage advisory committee…then I’m the wrong person for the job.”
Councillor Dennis said he was just using her comment as an excuse to resign.
“I just feel that you wanted off of the heritage (committee), so I think this is just a way that you’re using what I said for you to be able to feel good about getting off of heritage,” she said.
Mooney said she was wrong.
At the completion of the discussion he said he would withdraw his resignation and remain on the committee if he had the full support of council. When the offer for someone else to take his place on the committee was thrown out, no councillors leaped on it so Mooney withdrew his resignation.
Meanwhile, in response to Mooney’s question pertaining to Facebook commenting parameters for councillors, the town’s CAO said he would review council’s code of conduct and come back with a response at a future meeting.