Kamloops mayor, councillors can no longer move freely through city hall | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops mayor, councillors can no longer move freely through city hall


Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson claims he didn't know he'd need an escort to walk around city hall when he arrived this morning.

He told iNFOnews.ca on April 11 that he was surprised to find his key fob wouldn't unlock doors inside the building, aside from gaining access to his office. 

"The guy at the front reception desk wasn't allowed to open the door so I could get back into my office," Hamer-Jackson said.

He claimed it was a surprise, despite being in a meeting where he was briefed on the change.

"There was some mention of a change for fobs or something, but I thought it was just, you know, they changed the fobs or whatever. Again, it's just shocking. Unbelievably shocking," he said.

iNFOnews.ca learned the decision came from staff, and all of council are barred from accessing staff areas in order to address bullying and harassment at city hall.

It barred him going near staff, instead forcing him to detour around through council chambers.

"If you come into city hall and ask for me, I can't come out and greet you without being escorted," he said. "It's just crazy."

The change means he is separated from making direct contact with city employees at city hall without someone else present, seemingly with the exception of council's assistant.

It comes on the heels of his release of a confidential employment investigation centred around his treatment of four employees early in the term.

It's not clear why staff decided the change should apply to all of council, as Hamer-Jackson is the one who has been accused of bullying and harassment at city hall.

Councillor Bill Sarai, deputy mayor for April, would not comment on the move and acting chief administrative officer Byron McCorkell wasn't immediately available for comment.

The city provided a statement to iNFOnews.ca late in the day explaining the new policy is temporary and part of a "safety audit."

“Elected officials are not employees of the corporation and therefore should not have free access to staff areas,” civic operations director Jen Fretz said in the written statement.

"The corporation is responsible for providing a safe workplace for all staff, ensuring privacy of corporate documents, and ensuring the safety of visitors to our facilities. These measures provide additional controls to help us meet these responsibilities.”

Mayor and council now have restrictions on how they can access staff areas at city hall and all other city facilities, the statement reads. If they need access to a staff area, they'll be escorted under visitor procedures.

It's not clear how long the security audit will take, but the policy will last at least until the city said it can make "security improvements."

— This story was clarified at 2:48 p.m., April 11, 2024, with new information about the policy. A previous version suggested the mayor was the only one barred from interactions with staff.

— This story was updated at 4:33 p.m., April 11, 2024, with a statement provided by the City of Kamloops and a comment.

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