Staffing Issues addressed by Council
After several meetings of emphasizing that Council’s only hire was the COA, and that the COA was solely responsible for the staff (see January 25 and February 22), two staffing-related items appeared on March 14th Council Meeting agenda. First was a request from Rob Howat, the Director of Development Services from the Engineering Department, to appoint and reinstate Nikki Lewers as Municipal Deputy Approving Officer. If you recall, Elizabeth Nelson, former Municipal Engineer, left a vacancy in the department with her departure from the District of Sooke earlier this year.
Council granted that request.
The second request, made by CAO Teresa Sullivan, was that “council appoint Gabryel Joseph as Corporate Officer for the District of Sooke under section 148 of the Community Charter.” Joseph currently serves in the newly created Director of Corporate Services position. There was mention that an employee’s “lifestyle change” had created this vacancy. Councillor Logins noted that the CO job posting should be posted publicly, competitively, and that this appointment could not be considered permanent. Thus, the motion was revised to ensure the appointment of Joseph was for “acting” Corporate Officer.
CAO Teresa Sullivan noted that this reallocation of title and duties would result in a savings of well over $100+ thousand, as the job of the Director of Corporate Services would be rolled into the duties of Corporate Officer, thereby “saving” the cost of one salary. To which Logins responded that the position of Director, Corporate Services was newly created (Joseph started work on February 1, 2016), so the savings were not quite as high as suggested. The revised actual “savings” came down to about $25,000.
Acting Mayor Rick Kasper, and Councillors Kerry Reay and Kevin Pearson all voted in favour of the acting appointment; Councillors Brenda Parkinson and Ebony Logins voted against. Councillor Bev Berger, a sixth vote, was absent.
The motion passed.
The CAO and acting Mayor assured the rest of council that the CO job would be posted and put out for competition, when the job description had been written.
Bylaw No. 634 ,Council Procedure Amendment Bylaw (422-1)
At a February 22, 2016 Committee of the Whole meeting, the Director of Corporate Services pointed out that Sooke has been doing it wrong since 2009, and then-acting mayor Kerry Reay got a Legal Opinion that effectively shut down general public input. The new interpretation of the old Sooke bylaw was members of the public could only speak to items on the agenda. New input was not allowed. At that same Committee of the Whole Meeting, a delegate was refused her application because it did not pass the CAO’s vetting.
Kerry Reay, at the end of her mayor’s report on February 22, promised to fix that. “If this procedural bylaw is not in the interest of the District of Sooke,” she concluded, “then we need to take a look at it.”
March 14 2016 Meeting
At Monday’s meeting (March 14), Gail Hall presented during the Delegation section. She made two points relevant to this matter. The first: The Director of Corporate Services is not an official designation. The second: The proposed bylaw amendment cannot be done tonight, in accordance to the Community Charter, as sufficient public notice was not provided.
When the Agenda item was reviewed, Ebony Logins noted that council was being kept out of the Delegation-approval process, and that there was a sense of walls going up. She preferred a more open forum, allowing the public to freely address council.
Councillor Brenda Parkinson noted that she had had a conversation with the elected mayor, Maja Tait. On Tait’s behalf, Councillor Parkinson requested that the revision be postponed until the next meeting. This would allow the elected mayor — who would have to serve the rest of her term bound by this revised bylaw — to be a part of the conversation, as she would be back by then.
To this, Acting Mayor Rick Kasper spoke towards his commitment to public service, and that he could not and would not support Parkinson’s motion. Pressing issues should not be delayed because one voting member was not present, he argued. He was elected to act, and was prepared to do so.
Just when Council was about to vote on Parkinson’s motion to postpone the amendments to this bylaw, Deputy Corporate Officer Tina Hansen interjected to note that Ms. Hall was correct: the bylaw modification did not have two week’s of advertising.
Addressing the amendments has been postponed to the next Council meeting, so that the legal advertising requirements could be met.
Other Notable items
Bjorn Stavrum presented on behalf of the Sooke Parkwatch Society. Their grant in the last granting process was reduced from $5000 to $1000. Stavrum noted that 70 per cent of the people they served (whose vehicles they watch over in the parking lots of local parks) are from Sooke.
Council voted to increase the funding for the Sooke Parkwatch Society back to $5000.
Local Historian Elida Peers asked for, and received, Council’s support in principle for their upcoming Canada 150 celebrations.
Bylaw No. 630, Zoning Amendment Bylaw (600-22) received third reading and after some public input, on concerns of diluting the economic vibrancy of the town’s centre, was passed.
Two letters from Sooke residents expressed concerns about a deer cull happening in Sooke using bow-and-arrow. The matter was referred to staff for more information and further investigation.
Council agreed to support the AVICC Resolution — Protection of the Old Growth Forest.
Other things happened. It was a three hour meeting. Feel free to add my omissions in the comments below. The Regular Council video was not available at the time that this summary was published.