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Council In Focus

A brief recap of council meetings, as viewed from the gallery.

February 15, 2023 edition

Event: Lions Bay Council Special Meeting

Time: 6:00 pm

Agenda: HERE

Video link: HERE

Present at the council table were Mayor Ken Berry, Councillors Michael Broughton and Marcus Reuter and Acting Muncipal Clerk Karen Jeffery. Online participants included Councillor Neville Abbott and Administrative Assistant Marina Blagodarov.

Hard to know even where to begin with this one, folks. The purpose of this hastily-called meeting, according to the agenda posted on the village site HERE, was to discuss and appoint candidates for the position of Chief Elections Officer (CEO) and Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) for the village byelection, which has ostensibly been called for Saturday, April 15, 2023. Nomination dates were also expected to be posted.

The short version is, not much of this happened.

In a series of motions, resolutions A and B regarding the discussion of CEO and DCEO were removed from the agenda, and when a motion was made to post election dates, that motion was defeated. The public participation segment brought forward clearly frustrated village residents voicing concerns as to the validity of the governing process thus far. And the Mayor responded in kind, stymied by a council that wants to make decisions together rather than follow his direction. By the end of this meeting, once again characterized by council members and the mayor talking over each other, one motion was successfully passed: that the mayor seek out the support of the provincial department of municipal affairs to work with council as a whole in support of the upcoming byelection.

Here's how events unfolded:

After the meeting was called to order, discussion immediately arose as to modifying the agenda. Mayor Ken Berry noted that he had been in contact with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MoMA) earlier in the day, and that the information received would affect the course of the meeting. He gave a brief timeline, beginning with January 31, and the appointment of the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), a role Ron Miller assumed on February 7 when he took over as Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) after the resignation of Anthony Tobin. Berry further noted that the MoMA has offered to provide assistance during the upcoming municipal byelection and in fact, offered to pay those costs.

Councillor Reuter asked that the closed portion of the meeting be brought into the open for discussion, and all council members agreed, in this instance. When Berry reiterated the offer by the MoMA, Reuter expressed confusion with the mayor's statement that CAO Miller also currently holds the position of CEO. Reuter's position was that the village has no CEO.

Councillor Abbott stepped in, suggesting that the agenda be followed, and it was agreed to adopt the agenda and address each issue as it arose.

Public Participation:

  • Former Councillor Fred Bain took the podium to register his concern with the format of the agenda, adding that the change to conducting all business in the public meeting alleviated that concern. Additionally, he noted his discomfort with the number of hirings of individuals who are connected to elected members of council, and worried that a potential conflict of interest could bring acrimony to the village. He supported the idea of having an outside CEO.

  • Village Resident Rose Dudley stepped up with what she called "a tirade" in response to Berry's most recent Village Update (found HERE), in which village residents were reminded to be respectful and kind. She said that, conversely, fallout from the firing of CAO Peter deJong demonstrated a lack of kindness and respect for staff and some councillors. Abbott clarified that neither he nor Reuter had been introduced to Miller before his first appearance at council on January 31. Councillor Broughton noted that the impending needs of several matters at the time, impelled Tobin to hire Ron Miller as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and that the urgency meant that some protocols that should have been followed had been missed. Reuter agreed with Rose Dudley that there had been a number of procedural missteps, and conceded her point. Berry said that "misinformation had been fed out to the community" and that council's unanimous decision to fire deJong was based on a recommendation begun last July by a previous council suggesting that they move in a different direction, which the new council then unanimously approved. "We didn't fire anyone," he added. "We moved in a different direction." Berry then addressed the serious concerns he had about securing financial controls, which he noted had since been looked after with the assistance of CFO Miller. Reuter objected to the mayor's "speechifying" over the financial issue, which he said had been debunked in a previous meeting. The mayor then stated that Mr. Miller had actually been introduced to council in December, via a 16-page report.

  • Councillor Abbott offered several clarifications: that former CFO Pamela Rooke was not preparing to deliver a budget, but was instead working on utility taxes; that councils always do a standard review of CAOs, and the idea that the firing of deJong sprang from the review is an inaccurate reflection of events.

  • Online, village resident Tamara Leger asked for a point of information stemming from the Local Election Campaign Financing Act (LECFA), pertaining to whether a line item declared in Ken Berry's election expenditure for assistance "was paid to the same person who has recently been appointed without council knowledge or approval to a full-time village office administrative position." The mayor would not answer her question, and instead asked her to put it in writing and send it in to council.

  • Online, village resident Alison Dudley reiterated Fred Bain's earlier point that not only should appointed elections officers be impartial and non-partisan, but they should be perceived to be such. She gave specific examples, and then noted that she doesn't want to claim staff members are not capable of being impartial, but that the perception of conflict of interest is also important and should be avoided.

  • Municipal Clerk Karen Jeffrey reiterated that a countdown of eighty days to the byelection has begun and that a notice of nomination must be posted today.


A heated round of discussions followed.

Berry stated that when he met with MoMA, they offered to help the village find officials to run the election and even pay the costs. He noted that although Miller has stepped into the role of CEO, the preference is to have the assistance of an independent party.

Reuter agreed that the Ministry option is a good one, but asked for clarification regarding the provison of CEO and CDEO and the coverage of costs for those officials.

Berry expressed concern with councillors approaching the Ministry, noting that as Mayor, it is his responsibility to reach out to the Ministry, and that the Ministry did agree to pay.

Abbott noted that he too has spoken to the Ministry alone and in tandem with Reuter and has every intention of continuing to do so when he feels action needs to be taken. Reuter stated that his conversation with the Ministry had been to seek the assistance of a neutral third party, and to bring them into the room to help council function.

Broughton said he is concerned about the timeline, that as of January 31 the election is underway and certain steps must be taken to facilitate that. Reuter then disputed Broughton's claim that a CEO is in place, since the appointed officer resigned on February 7. He presumed the reason for this meeting was to appoint a CEO. Broughton said that in his understanding, the role of CEO has been assumed by Ron Miller.

Both Reuter and Abbott supported a meeting with the Ministry and council as a whole, and Reuter also mentioned he had plans to meet with a consultant for further advice.

Berry said that having the mayor reach out to the Ministry and report back to council allows for a more orderly process. Reuter said that council needs to move forward on the posting of dates, which can be accomplished with the assistance of the Ministry.

Broughton said that since the appointments have been legally made, council needs to follow the law, and the legal timelines now in place. He says the existing CEO is Miller, and that he should get help from the Ministry as needed.

The proposed resolution to set election dates did not pass.

Further discussion ensued, and Abbott said "the reason we didn't post the nomination, let's just be clear, is that we didn't pass the resolution to appoint Ron Miller as CEO. We're not trying to stop an election here, we're trying to follow the correct process."

After yet more discussion the following resolution was moved and passed: 'That the mayor reach out to the Ministry to bring them into the room to meet with all of council as soon as possible to assist us in the matter of the byelection.'

Public Participation Redux:

  • Village resident Gail Craig stepped up to the podium and asked if someone could confirm that Mr. Miller, as CEO, was appointed by council. Reuter responded that she is correct, the matter of the appointment of the CFO never did come before council, and further that his hiring occurred on January 19th, during a hiring freeze that was in place until February 4. He notes that this "calls into question whether Miller is indeed the CFO, and the CAO, let alone the CEO," and would also affect the hiring of staff. Broughton said the hiring freeze was rescinded December 8, 2022, with the minutes provided to council. Reuter denied the minutes had been provided, at one point calling out "Show me the minutes!" Abbott said that the most direct route is that appointments need to be brought before council. He further noted that the hiring freeze was put into place in an open meeting, and there was never a resolution made in an open meeting to lift the hiring freeze. Berry then said it was evident the hiring freeze was lifted, since council had gone on to hire both the CAO and the Fire Chief.

  • Online, village resident Penny Nelson spoke with reference to the hiring freeze. She noted that Robert's Rules of Order applies for a reason. "If a resolution is passed in an open meeting, it has to be rescinded in an open meeting, and speaking as someone who only sees the open meetings, it never happened."

As the closed portion of the meeting had been cancelled earlier, the council meeting then adjourned.

The next regular council meeting is scheduled for February 21, 2023 at 6:00 pm. As of this writing, the agenda and associated information package has not yet been posted.

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Norma Rodgers
Norma Rodgers

Residents are accustomed to mayor and council following established procedures such as appointing staff in open sessions so that there is a record and discussion, or hiring staff with municipal qualifications rather than personal connection. This is disturbing behaviour.


As a longtime resident and a member of a past Village council, I find this to be an embarrassment.


Ineptitude is always embarrassing.

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