‘It’s hard to be sitting at that table’: Sayward councillor quits over dysfunction

'It's hard to be sitting at that table': Sayward councillor quits over dysfunction
The Sayward mayor and councillors sit at the council table at the March 5, 2024 council meeting.

After almost a-year-and-a-half as a councillor for the Village of Sayward, Kohen Gilkin has resigned from his seat due to the dysfunction in the municipality.

Gilkin was elected as a councillor in the 2022 election, and he says his love of politics brought him to running for the seat.

“I’ve always been a fan of politics,” he told CHEK News in an interview. “And so I thought, you know what, this gives me the opportunity to show my community that there are younger people that are willing to run, and there are younger people that are willing to get involved and start, helping democracy, push our institutions forward and get younger people elected.”

Gilkin says he was excited to be elected and get started working for the community, but four or five months after the election, the winds shifted.

“We started to see some head butting, we weren’t getting along, things were not working out,” he said.

“You can go back and look on all of the past meetings that we’ve had over the last year, and you can see how our meetings go. It starts off, the meetings called the order and then sometimes it starts a little bit smoother, and then the other times, it just turns right into points order being called and the dysfunction in a sense.”

“It’s a sad state, it’s hard to watch, it’s hard to be sitting at that table and see your constituents come into that room, and the disappointment that they see with this council and the dysfunction that we’re displaying to our whole community, and really, everywhere across the province.”

CBC recently reported on the dysfunction in Sayward, noting that over the past five years there have been five mayors and four chief administrative officers. This is the highest turnover rate for both of these positions in the whole province.

READ MORE FROM CBC: B.C. municipality to debate whether it should continue to exist

“There has been turmoil in the past with Sayward and I can’t point to one issue, because it’s…I can’t really explain how it happens,” he says. “It seems that there’s something that’s just not fitting, in a sense with what’s going on.”

At the March 5 Sayward council meeting, a resident brought up the idea of dissolving the municipality to resolve the issues. Though Gilkin won’t be part of the decision, he does not believe this is the route council will take.

“I personally, I don’t think Sayward will ever dissolve,” he said.

Gilkin says this isn’t the end of his political journey, not ruling anything out.

“I don’t think there’s anything that will sway me away from a future running, I even said I would consider running in the next election for municipal government,” Gilkin said. “I would run back for Sayward but I’d want them to figure out the issues and start to resolve things.”

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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