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PCCA president Jeff Marynowski and Dorothy Bradley

Liberals accused of trying to gag association

Porter Creek Community Association (PCCA) meetings are usually pretty small, according to its vice-president, but March 5 was an exception.

By Taylor Blewett on April 11, 2018

Porter Creek Community Association (PCCA) meetings are usually pretty small, according to its vice-president, but March 5 was an exception.

“All year, there’s been about four of us, maybe five of us, that attend these meetings fairly regularly,” Dorothy Bradley told the Star Tuesday morning.

“All of a sudden, we get like 15 at the table.”

Some were members of the association, others were looking to join.

Three have day jobs as territorial Liberal cabinet staff, and one is a Yukon Liberal MLA.

The optics of the meeting that unfolded have prompted accusations from the Yukon Party and the community association president of political interference by the governing Liberals.

But some new members who attended the meeting describe a long-serving association president overstepping his authority.

The March 5 meeting happened just over a month after CBC broke a story revealing that the Yukon government had taken steps to purchase a property on Wann Road in Porter Creek for use as a youth group home, without informing neighbouring residents of its plans.

The Porter Creek Community Association met Feb. 5, and it was decided that it would not take a position on the group home.

“At that point in time, I did not know how far either municipal or territorial government had gone with decision-making, or how far they’d gone to consult and talk to the people,” PCCA president Jeff Marynowski told the Star last week.

The association convened again on March 5.

In the intervening period, Marynowski had written to Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost and made a presentation before city council about the Wann Road group home project in his role as PCCA president.

Marynowski asserts that his actions do not constitute taking a position on the group home.

“I had to advocate for the people desiring to have a voice,” he said, contending he was only asking for community consultation on the project.

But not everyone sees it that way, including city administration, who classified Marynowski’s presentation as “in opposition” to the group home in a public input report.

According to the March 5 PCCA meeting minutes, Liberal MLA Paolo Gallina, a member of the association, told Marynowski that he had been taking a position on the group home.

Another member of the association accused him of opposing it. This member, along with several others, said they did not want public consultation, and believed no one else in Porter Creek did, according to the minutes.

Three of these individuals are also employees in the Liberal cabinet office – one the premier’s executive assistant, who had not purchased a PCCA membership until the evening’s meeting, and another, cabinet minister Ranj Pillai’s administrative assistant.

One of the PCCA members, who also works in the cabinet office, moved a motion that no further correspondence would be sent from the PCCA until a formal process for outgoing communications was established.

The minutes report that the motion was carried, with six in favour and nine abstaining.

“Several weeks ago, the Porter Creek Community Association expressed concern with this government’s lack of consultation with neighbours on the new group home in Porter Creek,” Geraldine Van Bibber, the Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek North, said in the legislative assembly late last month.

“Instead of listening to these concerns and simply sitting down with the residents to consult with them, the government instead chose to stomp out any disagreement.”

“We have been told that the Liberal government sent a number of paid political staff from the cabinet offices, along with the Member for Porter Creek Centre, to take over the community association’s meeting and silence them with a gag order.”

She asked the premier to confirm whether this happened or not.

“I did not instruct anybody from my office to go to any public meeting, if that is what I am hearing from the members opposite,” Sandy Silver told the house.

Pillai, the MLA for Porter Creek South, said he believes Porter Creek residents should be able to go to PCCA meetings.

“Unless the members opposite want to cheerlead against Yukoners and tell people from Porter Creek that they can’t have their own personal life after 5 p.m….”

Silver expressed his agreement with Pillai.

“I guess maybe they don’t like to see Liberals going to these meetings — or paid staff for a Liberal caucus, for that matter.”

The cabinet declined to provide any further comment to the Star on the subject.

After more than a decade as the PCCA’s president, Marynowski told the Star the March meeting left him feeling “beat up.”

“If people in power are trying to influence and manipulate and take over our small community associations …

“To me, it’s threatening our democracy.

“That’s why we’re talking, because a person gets pushed into a corner, and sometimes you have no choice.”

Bradley said the events of the March meeting left her “absolutely dumbfounded.”

As a former president of other organizations herself, she said sometimes you have to decide on a course of action without being able to run it by members first.

“Jeff figured that the community needs a voice, and that’s what we were standing for.”

She said in her estimation, Marynowski was not taking a position for or against the group home, and was representing the organization in a way that was fair.

Attendees at the March 5 meeting weren’t all PCCA executive members and/or political staffers – many other Porter Creek residents showed up as well.

Hoby Irwin said he felt compelled to buy a PCCA membership and attend the March 5 meeting after listening to Marynowski’s presentation to city council. Irwin made a presentation of his own in support of the group home.

“I was quite upset over some of the things he had said,” he told the Star Tuesday.

Irwin felt Marynowski’s speech suggested the PCCA was against the group home project.

“I couldn’t believe that the community association would oppose something like that, but then when I found out the whole story, I could understand where the problem arose, it was not the executive, it was not the membership that approved this, it was just Jeff on his own.”

Irwin said he doesn’t feel anyone at the March 5 meeting was against consultation, despite what the minutes say. “I think all they were trying to do was ... give a little more guidance, and sometimes to say ‘take a deep breath before you say something,’ because otherwise people shoot off their mouths and then they regret it later on.”

Zara Soukoroff bought a membership at the March 5 meeting after encouragement by a friend – one of the cabinet staffers. Both grew up in the Porter Creek neighbourhood.

“She participates as a board member, and she said, ‘you know, we definitely could use more attendees, and we’d love for you to come out and join,’” Soukoroff said.

She also feels Marynowski’s communication on behalf of the PCCA constituted taking a position on the members’ behalf, and “made me personally quite uncomfortable.”

Soukoroff described the meeting minutes as a “misrepresentation of what happened.”

The minutes, prepared by Marynowski, passed at the most recent April 2 PCCA meeting, which Soukoroff did not attend.

“The discussion, and we continued to try to get Jeff back on track with this, was that we were concerned that he was sending out communication on letterhead that would legally bind other people to what he was saying. And there was no process.”

Soukoroff also said the minutes from the meeting do not accurately represent the vote on the subsequent motion, and that everyone except for Marynowski voted in favour of it – a recollection that was not shared by Bradley nor Irwin.

“I can understand that (Jeff) is frustrated, because it’s not very fun to be told, ‘well, you can’t continue to do things the way you’ve been doing them,’ but I’m definitely concerned that there’s no checks and balances,” Soukoroff said.

The conditional use application for the Wann Road group home was approved unanimously by city council on March 12.

The territorial Department of Health and Social Services has confirmed the project is moving forward.

The PCCA’s annual general meeting will be held April 25.

Comments (21)

Up 1 Down 0

Juniper Jackson on Apr 18, 2018 at 12:46 am

I don't understand why people can't just present opinions and debate the issue.. in the Parliament, it's acceptable to call people names..if you don't agree with Morneau..you are a neanderthal.. but in our small community it should be possible to have more respect.. rats in a dung heap? because you don't like their opinion? Looking like Russians? Coming out of their caves? What was accomplished with that approach?

Up 1 Down 2

CJ on Apr 16, 2018 at 1:00 pm

@Do the Math, On the surface I can see how it seems unfair to question people's motives for going to community association meetings. But I can't picture an opposite scenario, where people working for politicians go to community association meetings and criticize policies their bosses are trying to implement or support motions that question them. How do you think that would go over at work the next day? Not well, I can just about guarantee it.

Up 5 Down 1

Do the math on Apr 15, 2018 at 8:39 pm

People, people, the Liberals won the election by 7000 (seven thousand) votes. You'd kind of expect with our small population that quite a few of those would feel free to join Citizen Associations.

Up 5 Down 0

Riverdale Res on Apr 15, 2018 at 5:34 pm

Nile, Ive been member of the Riverdale Association for years, and your assertion that the Libs have "taken" it over is asinine.

Up 5 Down 2

Stan Winter on Apr 15, 2018 at 4:54 pm

This is not really about the liberal party since the attendees had every right to be there as the local liberal legislature representative and staff who reside in Porter Creek and have a stake in what goes on there.

This is really about the president of the association overstepping his position and presenting personal views as if they have association and community support.

Up 4 Down 5

Arturs on Apr 14, 2018 at 2:12 pm

Don't tell me that this conspiracy of freedom of association is being questioned by the hypocritical (pot calling kettle) Yukon Party who only represent a minority of Yukon voters yet include all Yukoners in their name can find any real fault here. Self assuming much?

Up 6 Down 3

Nile on Apr 14, 2018 at 1:43 pm

The Liberals have taken over a few of the community associations. Have a close look at the Riverdale Community Association.

Up 2 Down 2

Groucho d'North on Apr 13, 2018 at 2:01 pm

On the topic of managing the spin, take a look at the thumbs down counts when the Liberals are being criticized. As a frequent visitor to this forum, I can say this display is infrequent, the last time I recall seeing it was leading up to the last election when it too was pro-Liberal. There is an increased level of activity in one particular direction with this story. Is somebody trying to manage the public perception of how everybody feels? Naw...probably just a coincidence don't you think?

Up 5 Down 4

Sarah Marshal on Apr 12, 2018 at 10:39 pm

Is anyone surprised? This is literally how they got elected... did everyone forget? The liberals went around door to door and also asking homeless people to sign proxy votes... standard operating procedure...

Up 5 Down 4

Roger gillies on Apr 12, 2018 at 9:37 pm

Every ten years Canadians need a reminder why left wing governments are corrupt, costly and dangerous. I hope the voters of Porter Creek realize they did this to themselves last election and never make the mistake again

Up 5 Down 2

Hoby Irwin on Apr 12, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Wow, the conspiracy rats have come out of the dung heap for this one. Talk about jumping to conclusions without using any facts that are in evidence. I was at the COW re the group home and heard Jeff speak against the home, that's why I attended the PCCA meeting . Jeff admitted to saying he had said he wasn't going to take a stance then he went to City Council and definitely stood against it. He presented himself as the President of the PCCA even though the PCCA executive and membership had taken no stance on the home. He could have very easily disassociated himself from his role as President of the PCCA and given a presentation as a private citizen but he failed to do this. Politicians do this all the time. The vote was simply a way to insure that before anyone makes a presentation on behalf of the PCCA the executive should approve it. As a private citizen Jeff can say anything he wants, it's his right but as President of the PCCA he needs to consult the PCCA executive and members before saying anything on behalf of the PCCA. Fairly normal for most organizations.
And now the disclaimer. I do not work for any level of government, I'm not a Liberal and these are my personal views approved by me. Cheers!

Up 5 Down 4

Pasticchio on Apr 12, 2018 at 12:19 pm

I don't live in Porter Creek, but I know Jeff Marynowski has been a stalwart representative for the community association for many years. He has always struck me as having a professional, restrained demeanor when he attends public meetings and speaks to council. He has never come across as having a personal agenda. He was no different when speaking on this issue. He was just articulating concerns with the process, as it seems he was asked to do by some residents. That’s what I heard him say.

Since the Liberals campaigned and continue to promote themselves as being ace performers at public consultation, it was fair game to question how that was working. To my mind, the Liberals should have simply stepped up and made their eloquent case for the group home. They don't need to bully Jeff Marynowksi to do that, since the timing couldn't be better, thanks to Nancy Thomson's excellent reporting. Is this really where they need to focus their resources? As my mother used to say, what are they going to do when they have real problems?

As for the residents who have come out of their caves to claim PCCA “has no process” and other questionable comments that inappropriately targeted Jeff, it’s easy to shoot your mouths off when the meeting is stacked with staffers from the party in power. But if there was genuine concern, they could have done the hard work of participating in meetings in the first place and expressing their position without grandstanding. To now come out and criticize members of the association for doing that hard, thankless work for years is very small behaviour.

The territorial and municipal governments like community associations when they can bring them into their fold and use them to forward their own agenda, that's plain. But it's very discouraging to see the depths to which they'll descend to attempt to discredit them when they're not in line.

Whether residents of Porter Creek agreed with the group home or not, they should be speaking up for Jeff. Otherwise, they might as well let the executive council and city administration operate their community association and continue to send out a few robots to promote their agenda.

Up 4 Down 5

Max Mack on Apr 12, 2018 at 11:54 am

It certainly doesn't look good for the Liberals. Dirty politics in play.

Up 4 Down 2

Josey Wales on Apr 12, 2018 at 7:43 am

Are you certain of this? As it is not very common for LPC to lie, deceive, spin, hide and spend excessively..is it?
Oh wait...silly me, as it is their mission statement.
Really about as constant as gravity, those red team tactics.
Good luck with your massive, opulent million dollar babysitting facility.
Remember folks to spay and neuter, as the shelters are full in post personal responsibility Canada.

Up 2 Down 4

Larry L. on Apr 12, 2018 at 1:30 am

While we need good citizens to come out and join citizen associations we don't need them to decide to go 'Trumpish', as it were. I feel the elected Premier addressed the freedom of association concerns that the leaderless opposition has caterwauled about in typical hollow fashion.

Up 3 Down 2

Consider on Apr 11, 2018 at 7:23 pm

Consider that community associations often become the vehicle for moving forward the agendas of a very few.

Up 5 Down 3

My Opinion on Apr 11, 2018 at 6:56 pm

OMG. The Liberals are really looking a bit like Russia. I would say I can't believe it but I do. They will stop at nothing to stifle descent. Disgraceful.

Up 6 Down 2

Whatever Happened To ‘Be Heard’ on Apr 11, 2018 at 4:29 pm

This stinks to high heaven and just says if the Liberals want to push something through they’ll act to silence any discussion on it.
The way I see it Sandy Silver is the biggest hypocrite around after all his giant Liberal ‘Be Heard’ signs plastered everywhere last election. I don’t know about everyone else but I haven’t seen or heard hide nor hair from my Liberal MLA since last election! What a bunch of amateurs!

Up 6 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Apr 11, 2018 at 4:03 pm

Democracy is four wolves and a sheep voting on what's for lunch.

"...One of the PCCA members, who also works in the cabinet office, moved a motion that no further correspondence would be sent from the PCCA until a formal process for outgoing communications was established..." That sure sounds like an Orwellian tactic to sieze control - at least as far as what the official position may or may not be told to the public.
There sure a lot of preventative ass-covering going on, I wonder what is yet to be discovered?

Up 4 Down 1

Politico on Apr 11, 2018 at 3:53 pm

It should also be noted the person who made the motion to rein in the loose cannon was also a member of the PCCA board and has been so for some time.

Up 3 Down 2

Stan Winter on Apr 11, 2018 at 3:16 pm

Sounds like a bit of a mess and too much finger pointing.

Maybe time for a new PCCA president to set a democratic approach to representation.

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