Kamloops mayor withdraws hand-picked committee appointments | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops mayor withdraws hand-picked committee appointments


The mayor of Kamloops has withdrawn his hand-picked appointments to council committees but hopes the nine volunteers will eventually find a role at city hall.

Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson sent a letter to councillors and top city staff backing out of his original plan to add the hand-picked members of the community to council's five standing committees.

"I don't want people feeling they did something wrong by volunteering to serve the city," his March 24 letter reads.

Council scrutinized the mayor after he unilaterally added nine unelected people to the committees earlier this month. He was within his power to do so, and it's one of the few things a mayor can do without council approval.

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However, councillors were surprised by the appointments, claiming they weren't "meaningfully consulted" as some were ousted from leading those committees.

Two of Hamer-Jackson's appointments, including one who worked on his campaign, were failed candidates for council in last fall's municipal election. They were all, in the mayor's view, qualified for the committees he chose for them.

Councillors gave a joint statement to media before suspending the five committees at the next council meeting, claiming they took no issue with the qualifications for the nine people. Instead, they questioned the mayor's process to determine who should help determine policy within city hall.

They ultimately voted to suspend the five committees and form a new one last week, which will review confidentiality policies for unelected members. Council will likely change its policies to also restrict unelected members from sitting as chair of those committees.

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"Once council/senior staff do whatever it is that is proposed, I hope people I listed will see a role for themselves when the mayor asks them again if they'd volunteer to help our city," Hamer-Jackson's letter reads.

"We have important community needs that won't be going away while a new committee reviews what existing committees could be doing right now."

The five committees each consult staff and the public to create policies for development, protective services, reconciliation, finance and civic operations. None of them create policies for the city or approve spending, but they will make recommendations for council to consider as a whole.

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Each committee is made up of three councillors and all are appointed by the mayor. There are 120 unelected members of the public who consult with staff for the five committees who are part of several different "engagement groups."

Those people don't participate in public meetings, but the city had a different committee structure before 2019 where citizens were appointed.

Under the previous structure, the city would advertise a call of interest to the public and anyone interested would write a letter explaining why they wanted to join a committee, along with their resume. Staff would create a shortlist of qualified people for council approval.

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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