Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson has made significant changes to council’s standing committee appointments, removing some councillors from their roles as committee chairs.
A document obtained by Castanet Kamloops shows changes made to all five committees.
Members of the public have been appointed to each committee, including Darpan Sharma and Randy Sunderman, who ran unsuccessfully for council in the fall 2022 general local election.
Three members of the public, including Sunderman, have been given the responsibility of chairing committees.
David Trawin, the City of Kamloops CAO, said under the community charter the mayor has the authority to set the membership of the committees, and external representatives can be appointed. However, at least half of the committee must be made up of elected council members.
Trawin said under legislation, council either selects a committee chair, or they can defer that responsibility to the mayor or the committee. The city’s current terms of reference, which was adopted in 2019, defers the responsibility to the mayor.
However, Trawin said council as a whole sets the terms of reference.
“If this council felt that having a citizen be the chair of the committee was not in the will of council, they could change the terms of reference to have council appoint the chair,” Trawin said.
He said it isn't unprecedented to have members of the public sit on these committees, but in the past, citizens have been selected through a more formal process.
"A call went out to the community, and they were vetted by the committee and council to basically approve those members to sit on those committees," Trawin said.
Trawin said he was aware Hamer-Jackson had been considering changes to committees, but didn’t know any changes were imminent.
These changes come after a new council term that has been been marked by serious disagreement between Hamer-Jackson and councillors, including sharp words exchanged at council meetings and discussions around conflict of interest.
The document shows Coun. Kelly Hall has been removed as the chair of the community and protective services committee, and is no longer a member. He has been replaced by a member of the public, Bud Smith.
Hamer-Jackson has added himself as a member of this committee, as well as Brandon Coyle, another member of the public. Coun. Dale Bass and Coun. Katie Neustaeter remain as committee members.
For the community relations and reconciliation committee, Coun. Bill Sarai has been removed as the chair, but will remain a committee member.
The new chair of this committee is a citizen, Deborah Newby. Sonny Leonard, a former Tk’emlups te Secwepemc councillor, has been added to the committee roster. The committee also includes Neustaeter and Coun. Nancy Bepple.
Sunderman has been named as chair of the development and sustainability committee, replacing Coun. Mike O’Reilly, who will also no longer be a member. Tom Calne has been added to the committee which also includes Hall, Bass and Coun. Stephen Karpuk.
Coun. Margot Middleton will remain chair of the finance committee, which now includes Sharma. O’Reilly and Bepple also remain on the committee.
Coun. Bill Sarai will remain chair of the Civic Operations Committee, and Karpuk and Hall will continue to be committee members. Citizens Bill Swaine and Jim Budnaryk have been added to this committee.
Maria Mazzotta, corporate officer for the City of Kamloops, said she wasn’t sure when these changes would take effect.
“My guidance to the mayor has been that if he wishes to make such changes, he do so in the context of a formally called public council meeting, so that it's done in an open and transparent manner, similar to the announcements that he made in December regarding his initial committee appointments,” Mazzotta said.
Trawin said council members do not have to accept their appointment to a committee.
“If council was opposed to this type of thing, in theory, they could say they don't want to agree with this type of committee format, and they're not going to sit on the committee, and therefore there would be no committee since the majority of the persons have to be councillors,” Trawin said.