Former mayor says Hamer-Jackson needs to work with council

City hall mess 'unfortunate'

As Kamloops council prepares to meet in response to Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson’s unilateral committee changes, a former mayor says the growing fracture between mayor and councillors is unfortunate for city residents.

Terry Lake, who served as mayor of Kamloops from 2005 to 2008 and as MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson from 2009 until 2017, told Castanet Kamloops as per the Community Charter, it’s up to the mayor to provide leadership — but an effective leader must bring people together.

“Whether you're a hockey coach or a mayor, if you want to create a team you have to bring the team together and agree on a plan of action. And the mayor does not seem to be willing to do that,” Lake said.

“The Community Charter also says the mayor should reflect the views of council, and that clearly is not what's happening at this point in time.”

Lake, who was a supporter of Dieter Dudy’s unsuccessful mayoral campaign last fall, said it’s “very unfortunate” for the people of Kamloops to have this level of dysfunction in council, adding this can also be demoralizing for city staff.

“It’s incumbent upon the mayor and council to work this out and move forward in a positive way,” Lake said.

“I think council is trying to do that, and the mayor seems unwilling to go through a collaborative process to try to bring everyone on to a team that's rowing in the same direction.”

Last Thursday, a document was sent to reporters showing Hamer-Jackson made significant, unilateral changes to the city’s standing committee appointments.

He removed some councillors from chair positions and appointed citizens to the committees, some of whom are his friends and election supporters. Two people made financial contributions to the mayor’s campaign last fall, as per Elections BC.

Hamer-Jackson has defended his choice of appointees, pointing to the accomplishments of individuals like Bud Smith, Sonny Leonard, Jim Budnaryk and Deb Newby.

He has also said he was trying to get council’s feedback on the changes when the document was leaked, but also noted he wouldn’t want to put the matter to a vote, giving an example of a past motion that was shot down.

On Friday, all eight city councillors presented a joint statement in response, noting their concerns with the “lack of an equitable application process” and “the neglect of unbiased vetting,” and accusing the mayor of lying about his reasons for making committee changes. They said no councillor had been consulted before these changes were made.

They alleged Hamer-Jackson has subjected them to repeated disrespect and belittling, disruptive behaviour in the past. The mayor has denied these allegations, and has publicly called for proof.

“You don't just say that about somebody,” Hamer-Jackson said, adding he thought the councillors’ response showed “a total lack of respect.”

A special council meeting has been set for 11 a.m. on Tuesday. The meeting is open to the public, and residents can watch over Zoom. According to city documents, council plans to discuss terms of reference for council committees.

Hamer-Jackson earlier told Castanet Kamloops he doesn’t plan on attending the meeting due to prior commitments, but he said Monday he might try to adjust his plans and attend over Zoom.

He said he didn’t want to discuss what he's up to this week, only saying he was on a “fact-finding mission” that had to do with supportive housing and providing solutions to street disorder.

He also claimed he hadn’t received 24 hours notice of the special council meeting from two councillors as per the Community Charter. However, Maria Mazzotta, the city’s corporate officer, told Castanet Kamloops the mayor had received more than the proper amount of notice, with councillors sending an email to both of his official mayoral email addresses.

She said she saw some responses from councillors to Hamer-Jackson “trying to encourage him to attend.”

Hamer-Jackson said he is only trying to make the city better through his actions.

“Am I in this to whatever people's personal boundaries or their professional boundaries?” Hamer-Jackson asked, in reference the councillors' statement saying he has repeatedly violated their boundaries.

“Or am I here to try to help? Am I doing my fact-finding mission today because I want to have a worse City of Kamloops?”

Lake said he thinks council should consider bringing in someone to help mediate as they try to move forward.

He said he believes the mayor has good intentions.

“No one is denying he wants to make positive change," Lake said.

"If you use the sports analogy, if you want to make a positive change with any team, you have to bring the team together and agree as a group how you’re going to do that."

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