Kamloops council to ask B.C. government for new legislation to help with governance issues

Addressing 'total chaos'

Kamloops council will be sending a letter to the province, requesting legislation to provide municipalities with new ways of addressing governance issues.

The decision was made one week after Henry Braun, the municipal advisor assigned to give governance recommendations to Kamloops’ embattled mayor and council, provided his final report.

Coun. Dale Bass put forward the motion during Tuesday's council meeting, asking for the letter to be sent to the B.C. government.

“I'd like to see us start dealing with the Braun report, and this one seems to be a fairly easy one. Because when we look around the province, we see several municipalities that are having issues — not quite like ours, but sometimes like ours,” Bass said.

“It’s time for the province to do something, and the reality is, we have no tools. The municipal advisor can come in and do whatever he wants and report whatever he needs to report, but he has no tools.”

In his report, Braun concluded Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson’s reluctance to change his behaviours or admit fault has contributed significantly to issues at city hall, and outlined 23 recommendations — 10 specifically for the mayor and 13 for council as a whole.

A letter to the premier?

Some of Braun’s recommendations include amending council’s code of conduct to include a financial penalty, and discussing the possible need for provincial legislative changes to help councils experiencing extreme dysfunction.

“Absent a commitment from the mayor to make significant changes in how he interacts and treats council colleagues and administrative staff, I am not aware of any legislative levers that council has at its disposal,” Braun said in his report.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Bass suggested council send a letter to the premier and the minister of municipal affairs, asking them to enact legislation to provide tools for addressing “ongoing issues of breaches of conduct, ethical breaches, poor governance, decisions that are made that impact the community in an adverse way.”

Hamer-Jackson, who had earlier been stripped of his chair duties after his mayor’s report but was still able to vote on the matter, cited reporting from Castanet Kamloops saying the Ministry of Municipal Affairs is not considering recall legislation at this time.

“The province actually says that the government, that we do have a lot of tools in our municipalities,” Hamer-Jackson said, noting the Community Charter’s disqualification process, which involves a 10-person petition to the Supreme Court, as an example.

'Total chaos'

“The province said it will not enact recall. I deliberately did not include anything like that because there are other options,” Bass replied.

“I don't know where to begin with some of these things with you. So yes — there's the Community Charter, but when someone breaches the Community Charter, what can you do? Not much.

“And as for your 10-person petition, it must be a pecuniary conflict of interest. Total chaos is not qualified to go to the Supreme Court.”

Coun. Katie Neustaeter said while she respected news reporters, “they don’t govern this space.”

“What we do in this space is of the discernment of council to ensure the good of our community. Reports that are issued through the media are not what we look to for good governance,” she said.

Bass said she hoped other municipalities would also turn to the province with similar requests for new legislation.

In early May, delegates representing dozens of B.C. Interior municipalities at the Southern Interior Local Government Association conference voted in favour of a Kamloops-sponsored resolution calling for more provincial safeguards to deal with bullying and harassment in municipalities.

Hamer-Jackson said he had another question, but Coun. Kelly Hall, who was chairing the meeting at that point, called for the vote. Bass’ motion was approved by council.

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