City says key fob access changes for Kamloops mayor, council are to protect staff

Locks changed at city hall

New measures are in place restricting Kamloops city council members from directly accessing staff areas at all municipal facilities, including city hall.

Jen Fretz, the city’s civic operations director, wouldn't comment on whether the move to change key fob access for elected officials was related to the ongoing chaos at city hall.

In the past couple of weeks, Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson suddenly decided to suspend the acting CAO — a decision quickly reversed by the rest of council — and then released two confidential city documents to news reporters.

One of those documents was an investigative report that concluded the mayor violated council’s code of conduct multiple times by disrespecting or demeaning three staff members.

Fretz said the corporation is responsible for providing a safe workplace for staff — hence the key fob changes.

“The fob access was more about making sure that we are keeping our workspaces for our staff free of bullying and harassment, and making sure that we’re separating the elected officials from our staffed areas,” she said.

In a statement, the city said mayor and council will continue to be able to access all areas required to perform their duties, including council chambers, the mayor’s office and councillors’ office, and all public areas of city hall.

Council members requiring access to staff areas will be escorted by a staff member while within employees’ areas, following regular visitor procedures.

Fretz said all nine members of council were notified about the changes on Tuesday.

"It's an administrative decision, not a council decision. And everyone was present on Tuesday when I let them know what was going on," she said.

Fretz said the changes in key fob access is temporary until administration receives results of a separate security audit — which has been in the works for a while.

"The moves that we made in changing fob access were separate from the security audit that we're doing,” she said.

She said the security audit is being undertaken at a time when “the temperature on things is changing,” and administration wants to ensure the small council chambers remain safe for everyone.

"We want to continue to engage with the public as much as we can, but we want to make sure that we're also doing that in a way that's safe for everyone,” she said.

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