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Chaos continues in Kamloops city hall, mayor responds to advisor's report

The Kamloops council meeting descended into chaos on Tuesday in light of a report from a municipal advisor presented last week.

Last week, Henry Braun, the provincially-assigned municipal advisor, presented the Committee of the Whole with a formal report after being assigned to monitor and provide recommendations to the city’s council after the city requested help from BC’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

“The current council governance situation in the City of Kamloops Kamloops is not normal,” Braun said during the May 7 meeting.

Braun’s report identified 16 challenges and made 23 recommendations.

During that meeting, all eight city councillors voted in favour of a motion to have the mayor resign from his position. However, the mayor said he had no intentions to do so.

Mayor apologizes, voted out of chair for Tuesday meeting

At the end of the May 14 meeting, Hamer-Jackson questioned why the Braun report was made public so quickly. A staff member explained that city council voted in favour of making it so.

He started off his address by referring to his campaign promises while running for mayor.

“When the citizens of Kamloops cast their support for me, I became mayor. It was clear from the community that citizens were in favour of my goals for the future of the city,” he said.

He then offered an apology to anybody he may have offended since he was elected.

“On my personal behalf, I want to state that if I have offended anyone during the time in office to date, it was not my intention,” Hamer-Jackson said.

He continued by saying that, with respect to the Braun report, he would be taking the time to consider the content and would be making comments in the coming days and weeks.

“In the meantime, be aware, much of the contents of Mr. Brauns report is subject to significant further examination and clarification,” Hamer-Jackson said.

The mayor began to talk to confidential information involving senior staff and was interrupted by city staff who reminded the mayor he was not allowed to speak to that information.

In a rare motion, councillor Stehpen Karpuk put forward a vote to have the deputy mayor take over the rest of the meeting. This month the deputy mayor is coun. Kelly Hall.

The motion was supported with an 8-1 vote, with only the mayor opposed.

<who> Photo Credit: City of Kamloops file picture

Need for provincial help brought up, chaos ensues from council chambers' gallery

Coun. Dale Bass said it was time to start addressing the concerns in Braun’s report.

“It’s time for the province to do something and the reality is we have no tools,” she said.

“I would move that we send a letter to the Premier and to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, asking them to enact legislation to provide some kind of tool to address ongoing issues of breaches of conduct, ethical breaches, poor governance, decisions that are made that impact the community in an adverse way.”

Hamer-Jackson referred to a media report that said the government wasn’t considering recall legislation.

“The province actually says that we do have a lot of tools in our municipalities,” he said, pointing to the Community Charter and the courts.

“I have no idea where to begin with some of these things with you. Total chaos is not qualified to go to the Supreme Court,” coun. Bass responded.

Coun. Katie Neustaeter said despite the local media providing “critical” coverage of the local government, she advised Hamer-Jackson not to rely on media reports.

Coun. Stephen Karpuk then defended his motion to challenge the chair.

“Under section two, it is the ability for a member of this group here in this room to challenge the chair and at that point the chair does not get a vote,” Karpuk said.

“It is a very important factor that was raised as a tool that we have. It’s not something we take lightly, I’m not really happy I had to do it. But it is something that is there for simple civil governance. And unfortunately, we had to use it today.”

At this point, chaos broke out in council chambers with several members in the gallery speaking out of turn, including one man yelling “point of order” and attempting to interrupt the meeting.

Staff shut off all microphones as city councillors left the room, leaving Hamer-Jackson alone until the disruption was resolved.

Ultimately, the meeting ended early, with no motion moving forward and deputy mayor Hall calling for a recess until the closed council meeting scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

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