Members of the FVRD board of directors listen as Harrison Hot Springs Mayor Leo Facio speaks fondly of outgoing board chair and Chilliwack mayor Sharon Gaetz at Tuesday's meeting.

FVRD board picks Chilliwack city councillor as chair

Mayor Sharon Gaetz out, Coun. Jason Lum in at the helm of regional district

After four years with Mayor Sharon Gaetz at the helm, the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) board of directors has a new chair in Chilliwack city councillor Jason Lum.

Lum was elected to lead the board at Tuesday’s full FVRD board meeting in a vote over Hope Mayor Wilfried Vicktor.

Abbotsford councillor Patricia Ross was acclaimed as vice-chair.

Any underlying tension about the direction or management of the board was nowhere to be seen Tuesday evening as directors applauded both the new leadership and Gaetz.

Harrison Hot Springs Mayor Leo Facio presented Gaetz with a bouquet of flowers and spoke highly of her time as board chair.

Lum, too, lauded his predecessor.

“Director Gaetz has been a fierce advocate for the regional district and has helped navigate the regional district through some very difficult times,” he said. “We appreciate very much her leadership and I know the rest of the board will join me in thanking her very much.”

Gaetz was not nominated to run for board chair Tuesday. In fact she was the one who nominated Lum.

What led up to the change Tuesday was at the October meeting of the FVRD board when Vicktor made a point of suggesting that others around the table should contemplate running for board chair at the Nov. 22 meeting.

Vicktor was upset about comments Gaetz had made to a newspaper about homeless people and residents calling her to demand they be given bus tickets to Hope.

“I just think there has to be a lot of discretion when speaking on behalf of the region,” Vicktor said of the comments, which he called “silly.”

“And ‘silly’ is a sugar-coated term of what I wanted to say.”

Even sending Gaetz to this year’s board at all from Chilliwack city council was in jeopardy at the Nov. 1 meeting, when Coun. Sam Waddington made a motion to change the tradition of how FVRD board appointments are made. The tradition for Chilliwack is to send the mayor and the three highest vote getters in the last municipal election.

Waddington’s motion was defeated with just he and Lum in support.

Also voted on Tuesday was chair and alternate chair of the Fraser Valley Regional Hospital Board. Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun was acclaimed as chair, and Chilliwack councillor Chuck Stam won the role of alternate in a vote over Mission councillor Pam Alexis.

The FVRD board is made up of 22 representatives including: eight representatives for the unincorporated electoral areas; six municipal directors from the City of Abbotsford; four municipal directors from the City of Chilliwack; two municipal directors from the District of Mission; one municipal director from the District of Kent; one municipal director from the District of Hope; and one municipal director from the Village of Harrison Hot Springs.