Discussion of Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen CAO conduct concerns pushed to later meeting again

CAO conflict pushed again

Discussion over whether the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen CAO had a conflict of interest when the company his daughter works for was awarded a $60,000 government contract has been pushed by a week.

Amanda Newell of Sundog Solutions was awarded a contract to do a "complete review of [the RDOS'] emergency management program" on Dec. 15, 2022.

She is the daughter of Bill Newell, RDOS CAO, a relationship he did not disclose at the time of presenting the board with staff's decision to choose Sundog Solutions.

At Thursday's regular meeting, RDOS board members were scheduled to discuss the matter, and whether Newell should have recused himself from proposal evaluations.

But the board was not at its full capacity of 20 on Thursday, prompting Penticton councillor Helena Konanz to propose pushing the matter to a later meeting. She noted in particular that three of five regular Penticton representatives were away.

Director Riley Gettens agreed, and proposed a special meeting next week.

"I feel like if we wait another two weeks to have this discussion, it's just sort of going on and on and on," Gettens said.

Others on the board were not convinced the discussion, which had already been postponed from a meeting two weeks ago, needed to be pushed again.

"Can I just can I just mention that there are 14 of us have board members that are here on either on the screen or in the room?" Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff said.

"To me, that's a good number."

The motion ultimately passed, with directors Miller, Bush, McKortoff, Barkwill and Van Alphen in opposition. The board will discuss the issue on Wedneday, March 8.

Newell provided an overview document of the timeline of the contract award, purporting in it that "there was no pecuniary interest in this matter" for himself as CAO.

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