“I feel ambushed. It’s quite discouraging when we learn at the same time as the public and we don’t have answers,” laments the councilor.

Blue Mountains Council has given its approval for Mayor Andrea Matrosovs to attend a climate action summit in Dubai.

The council voted in favor of the mayor’s participation in the event at a special meeting on November 9. The issue was controversial, prompting a more than two-hour meeting, and was approved in a 4-2 vote with council members June Porter and Shawn McKinlay opposed. . Matrosovs declared a conflict.

The mayor received an invitation on November 3 to attend the COP28 Local Climate Action Summit at Expo City, Dubai, during the first two weeks of December. All expenses, estimated at $31,000 for two attendees, for the travel and event will be paid by the C40 Cities Climate Change Leadership Group. The event is being held in conjunction with the Global Climate Action Summit.

The Council approved the mayor’s attendance with some conditions. All travel expenses (flight, hotel and meals) must be paid in advance by C40, the mayor must present a goals and objectives report at the next council meeting and a return on investment report must be presented at the end of the event .

In a second vote, the council declined to approve a city staff member attending the event. The invitation was extended to the mayor plus one.

City policy requires council permission for a member to attend an out-of-province conference. Additionally, the city had to verify that the invitation was not considered a gift under the city’s code of conduct.

The invitation and subsequent special meeting to discuss Report by CAO Shawn Everitt The issue caught council members by surprise and several councilors expressed dismay at having to make such a quick decision.

Several council members mentioned receiving many calls and emails from local residents after the special meeting agenda was posted on the city website.

“I feel ambushed. “It’s pretty disheartening when we learn at the same time as the public and we don’t have any answers,” Coun said. Shawn McKinlay.

Everitt explained that he quickly turned around the report on the matter to expedite the process under such a tight deadline. He said that since the next council meeting was not scheduled until Nov. 20, he would not have left much time to RSVP and book travel if the decision had been left for a later date.

“This was in response to an invitation the mayor received,” the CAO said. “This is something that came up quickly.”

Count. Gail Ardiel said she couldn’t support the city spending money on such a trip, even if there was a promise of reimbursement.

“There could be a setback and then they would only pay 50 percent,” Ardiel said.

Deputy Mayor Peter Bordignon said that after getting over his “initial shock and dismay” at the invitation, he did some research and contacted C40 and was told all expenses could be paid in advance if that was the city’s wish.

“Nothing has to come out of the city’s coffers,” said Bordignon, who said the mayor had been invited to the event as a delegate. “This is not something the mayor was looking for.”

Bordignon acknowledged hearing from community members upset about the trip to Dubai, however, he noted that it was a special situation for the community.

“We should be honored that the mayor of a small town is invited to this,” he said.

McKinlay said he could not support traveling abroad for a climate change summit.

“How can there not be a virtual delegation?” she asked, questioning how many trees the city would have to plant to offset the carbon spent on the mayor’s trip to the event.

The meeting generated significant public interest, and Secretary Corrina Giles read three public comments on the matter: two opposed the trip, while one supported it. Four residents of the area also participated in the meeting, three against and one in favor of the trip.