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iN VIDEO: Kamloops councillors prevent Mayor from chairing council meeting

A Kamloops council meeting went off the rails after a man called on all to resign except the mayor on May 14, 2024.

Kamloops city council had one of its most combative public meetings yet, just a week after the province's contracted advisor tried pointing them toward reconciliation.

The meeting was nearing its end today, May 14, when Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson began reading from a prepared statement. That's when it was nearly derailed.

To keep it on track council voted to remove Hamer-Jackson from chairing the meeting giving the responsibility instead to Coun. Kelly Hall. It's the first time councillors made this move in a year-and-a-half of tumult.

Minutes later, eight councillors walked out of the council meeting entirely when it was interrupted by one of the mayor's supporters. The supporter was escorted out as two bylaw officers threatened to call RCMP and have him arrested. Others there to support the mayor then left on their own accord.

The mayor alone remained in his chair until it was quiet again and some of Hamer-Jackson's supporters were gone.

Hamer-Jackson's prepared statement came in response to the provincial advisor's report issued last week, which found him to be at the centre of council's dysfunction. The mayor said he still needed time to go over advisor Henry Braun's report, but he used his statement first to reiterate the platform that got him elected.

"I focused on several goals that summarized my points with respect to the city and what we need to accomplish: a safer community, accountability and transparency, attainable housing, and recovery for those struggling with mental health and substance use," he said. "The citizens of Kamloops cast their support for me and I became mayor."

READ MORE: Councillors a 'minor' contributor to Kamloops city hall strife

He went on to say he is concerned about conflict of interest risks among city councillors who have family working for the City, raised similar allegations about Braun and his tenure as mayor in Abbotsford, then raised an email sent by City manager David Trawin.

That email, included in full within an internal investigation, tells council that the mayor had threatened to fire him.

Through his statement, Hamer-Jackson appeared to be attempting to defend himself and to claim he did not threaten to fire the City's top employee, but he was cut off by deputy corporate officer Amanda Passmore.

"Mr. Mayor, the information you are referring to is protected, private information and you are not to speak about it in an open forum," she said.

Hamer-Jackson tried to fight back, but it was Coun. Stephen Karpuk who called a vote that the mayor be removed as chair of the meeting.

READ MORE: Kamloops city council calls for mayor to resign

"You don't get to speak," Karpuk said. "You do not get a vote. This is under the Community Charter, which you just told us to follow."

All eight councillors agreed, meaning Hamer-Jackson could stay, but he was not allowed to the chair the meeting. That duty was passed on to Coun. Hall.

"Is this real?" the mayor asked and Passmore confirmed it was.

Kapruk later said he did not "take it lightly," but he felt the vote was necessary.

"I'm not really happy that I had to do it, but it is something that is there for simple civil governance," he said. "It comes from the Community Charter. It is a tool. Unfortunately, we had to use it today."

That's when another man from the gallery stood to voice his displeasure with council and his support for Hamer-Jackson.

READ MORE: How Kamloops councillors and staff have leashed the mayor

"Point of order," he said, as he walked toward the podium.

Councillors protested saying "that's not how that works" and tried to cut him off. The microphone at the podium was shut off and councillors began to file out of the room again.

"I want to get rid of this council. Keep the mayor," the man said as a bylaw officer urged him to leave.

It was after the man left and the room quieted down that councillors returned to council chambers and finished the meeting.

The meeting came on the heels of Braun's report that laid out 23 recommendations for council to find a path toward smoother governance — 13 of those were directed at the mayor specifically.

While Hamer-Jackson still says he is going over the report to consider what he will do, council made up their minds last week while Braun was still in the room. They asked that the mayor resign.

The mayor, however, has no obligation to follow their vote.

After Tuesday's meeting Hall, who is also deputy mayor for the month, said the onus is on Hamer-Jackson to find a way to work with council.

"It was noted in the Braun report that there's some recommendations he needs to look at. If he continues to look at and move on them, that's what we want to see," Hall said. "Then there's an opportunity for us to work for the betterment of the community."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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