Kamloops council to review, implement municipal advisor's recommendations 'as quickly as we can'

Mayor blamed for chaos

UPDATE: 2:08 p.m.

Kamloops city councillors say they are looking forward to making headway on recommendations laid out Tuesday in a scathing report by a provincially appointed municipal advisor, who blamed Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson for the bulk of the dysfunction at city hall.

Henry Braun’s report included 13 recommendations for all nine members of council, and 10 specifically for Hamer-Jackson — who, according to Braun, shoulders the blame for council dysfunction due to his combativeness and an unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions or admit fault.

After Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting, Coun. Kelly Hall said council plans to sit down with staff to take a look at Braun’s recommendations and “start chipping away at them.”

“I look forward to dealing with these recommendations and trying to move forward as quickly as we can on them,” Hall said.

“Granted, the document just came out this morning, so there’s lots to digest. So there will be a lot of discussion, I'm sure, with legal counsel, with the ministry, as well as council, and we’ll start moving forward as quickly as we can."

Recall legislation floated

The report recommends council members amend its code of conduct to include financial sanctions for repeated offences. This could include a 10 per cent reduction in salary for the first infraction, up to a 75 per cent reduction in salary for the fourth infraction.

Braun said council should also look at adjusting its remuneration bylaw to account for an increased workload for councillors and the deputy mayor.

He recommended discussing the possible need for changes to provincial legislation, possibly including a process for removing a member of council.

Kamloops council already sponsored a resolution at last week’s Southern Interior Local Government Association conference, aimed at advocating to the province for new provisions and safeguards against bullying and harassment.

“I know, for myself, the one thing that I wanted out of this report — and I'm sure it was for council as well — was the provincial government take a look at the need for change in the Community Charter, and it's in the report, that allows for removal,” Hall said.

“You have to be careful what you wish for, but there has to be some change to the charter to allow this so that the dysfunction that we see not only in this community, but some other communities, throughout B.C. and Alberta, you have a tool to deal with it.”

Advisor's work is done

Braun recommended staff should assess closed and special council document management, and noted the city has already undertaken a process to prevent confidential document breaches.

Council members are also encouraged to enrol in courses, workshops and seminars focused on leadership, conflict resolution, ethics and public administration, seek out a governance consultant who can provide ongoing mentorship, and implement regular anonymous feedback mechanisms to gauge areas for improvement.

Braun told reporters after the meeting that what happens next is in council’s hands.

“I tried to present the picture of what's going on here — and the rest is up to council," he said.

"They're the governors and the policymakers."

UPDATE: 11:40 a.m.

Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson has refused to resign his seat following a dramatic morning at Kamloops city hall.

Coun. Margot Middleton called on Hamer-Jackson to resign after municipal advisor Henry Braun delivered a scathing report blaming the mayor for most of the dysfunction.

Hamer-Jackson refused to budge.

“I think what would be fair, like what I said to Mr. Braun, I think I have not had a lot of defence in this,” he said. “I think this will be taken care of in a court proceeding where you have lawyers, examination for discovery.”

ORIGINAL STORY: 11:22 a.m.

Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson’s “contempt for authority structure” and a stubborn unwillingness to admit fault has contributed significantly to the unprecedented dysfunction at Kamloops city hall, according to a report presented Tuesday by a provincially appointed municipal advisor.

Henry Braun also recommended provincial legislation to “remove a member from council” — a law not currently on the books in B.C.

Braun, a former mayor of Abbotsford, said he met with Hamer-Jackson, councillors and city staff over a period of months following his appointment early this year.

In a 30-minute presentation Tuesday morning at Kamloops city hall, Braun painted a dark picture of a chaotic and dysfunctional municipal government — and he placed the majority of the blame at the feet of Hamer-Jackson.

“In my opinion, the mayor’s reluctance to change behaviour or admit error has significantly contributed to the issues,” Braun said.

'The status quo is not an option'

Braun’s report identifies 16 challenges faced by the city and makes 23 recommendations — 10 for Hamer-Jackson and 13 for council as a whole.

He said the situation in Kamloops is “not normal.”

“The relationship between mayor and council is untenable and the status quo is not an option,” he said.

Among his recommendations to the mayor, Braun urged Hamer-Jackson to let go of grudges and adjust his leadership style.

“The mayor appears to prefer fighting disagreements without an openness to resolving issues. This suggests a preference for a combative stance over constructive dialogue,” he said.

“It does not appear that the mayor looks to staff or council for advice or guidance.”

'Avoiding responsibility for his actions'

Braun said he met with Hamer-Jackson multiple times and said the two had a number of additional conversations, as well. He said he offered the mayor advice more than once.

“Unfortunately, I did not observe that the mayor acted on that advice even once,” Braun said. "I have observed the mayor avoiding responsibility for his actions and inactions.”

Braun did not express great optimism for the short term.

“Absent significant change in how the mayor interacts with others, I am not optimistic there will be any improvement during the remainder of this term,” he said.

"The mayor’s position has continuously been that he has done nothing wrong, made no mistakes and he has nothing to apologize for. This makes for a difficult working environment.”

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