Kamloops mayor leaves meeting for his own motion | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops mayor leaves meeting for his own motion

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Reid Hamer-Jackson

The mayor of Kamloops stepped away from his own proposal to review a homeless service yesterday because his own business is too close.

His notice of motion asked for a "review" and possible relocation of a storage facility and public washroom aimed at the local homeless population.

After more than an hour of debate among councillors and discussion with area business owners and non-profits, the motion passed unanimously, but without mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson in the room.

His car dealership Tru Market, which he's operated for more than 20 years, is a few hundred metres away, but he initially believed he wasn't in conflict.

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"I don't feel I'm in conflict just to be able to open a business," he said at the Jan. 31 council meeting when pressed on his personal interest in Victoria Street West.

Coun. Katie Neustaeter questioned him on his background on that street. Hamer-Jackson claimed in the past he's been a "spokesperson" for other businesses on that street.

"This steps into severely unethical behaviour for me," she said.

Hamer-Jackson proposed staff review the service at Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society's storage unit at 48 Victoria Street West.

It's a City-owned property, where Friendship Society clients can use storage, washrooms and showers, but outreach workers will also support them with service referrals and distribute Naloxone kits.

Hamer-Jackson explained he's concerned for the safety of the clients on that street since it's a busy corridor, risking collisions with vehicles and its homeless clients.

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The motion was changed at least twice, once to review all services on West Victoria Street, then back to specifically 48 Victoria Street West.

Hamer-Jackson was warned he could be in conflict when council discussed whether to examine all homeless services on that street, which includes The Mustard Seed, and two Canadian Mental Health Association facilities.

He reluctantly stepped out of the room.

Council eventually changed the motion again, with a focus specifically on 48 Victoria Street West. Hamer-Jackson opted to still recuse himself, even though it was essentially the same as how he first proposed the idea.

Eight councillors unanimously approved the motion without Hamer-Jackson in the room.

Corporate officer Maria Mazzotta explained to Hamer-Jackson she could not give him legal advice, only suggesting a court would ultimately have to decide whether the mayor is in conflict.

A conflict of interest can risk an elected official being removed from their office, but requires at least ten constituents to submit a claim to the B.C. Supreme Court.

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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