Lillooet’s chief administrator has compared the municipality’s critics to “cancer,” and taken a polygraph test to prove he didn’t make a controversial statement regarding flooding.
In a report presented to council Sept. 10, Grant Loyer fires back at residents whom he said are ruining Lillooet’s reputation and causing conflict in the Fraser River town of 2,300 people.
“We have had employees and their families leave Lillooet because they don’t want to deal with constant harassment and negativity, nor have their children exposed to it,” he wrote to council.
The administrator’s report comes in direct response to a citizen, George Vanderwolf. Loyer said the long-time resident demanded administration provide names of those in the community who had accused councillors or staff of lying.
Loyer’s memo then sets out facts around council’s dealings with a proposed water project and names three residents Loyer claims made false statements.
“There are residents in Lillooet, confirmed by your (Vanderwolf) actions, who believe they have the right to abuse staff verbally and through the written word,” said Loyer’s memo.
“The actions of the malcontents could be likened to someone dealing with cancer,” he wrote. “Ignore it (and) the cancer spreads and the person dies.”
The memo was accepted by council but no direct action was taken.
Vanderwolf could not be contacted Friday or Monday for comment.
The Fraser River community has been embroiled in battles between critics banded together under a ratepayer’s association and the municipality for years.
In January this year, after one month in office, the town’s mayor and a councillor resigned.
Former mayor Ted Anchor issued a statement this month saying he resigned because he felt Loyer was in a conflict of interest because he authorized a water diversion — work that may have resulted in flooding that damaged homes — and is also the administrator dealing with legal and insurance issues.
Contacted Friday, Loyer said he felt the need to get a polygraph test to clear his name of allegations that he told a councillor that he “would like to do more for residents affected by groundwater, but council would not let me do so.”
Loyer, who has worked for the municipality for six years, denied making that statement. The polygraph operator’s opinion was that Loyer answered truthfully.
Loyer said in an interview he took the polygraph test because “I was dealing with one of the good old boys in town (Vanderwolf) and it would have been my word against his.”
Controversies have plagued the town for more than five years, including isues around the presence of arsenic in well water and flooding.
A 2010 bylaw would have made it illegal for residents to meet in public without a permit. It came after council clashed with a residents’ group.
Loyer said political problems are driven by a committed group of 20 or so people, including Vanderwolf.
“They have nothing better to do with their time.”
A number of residents are also suing the municipality over last winter’s flooding, which they claim was caused in part by the water diversion project.
The municipality also has proposed a resolution at Union of B.C. Municipalities that would require councillors to provide “substantive reasons” to the public when they leave office.