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Village Subject of Lawsuit

Ex-CAO Files Civil Claim with BC Supreme Court



A civil suit against the Village of Lions Bay was formally filed with the Supreme Court of British Columbia on June 9 by former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Peter deJong, according to documents available on the provincial government website.


deJong was hired by the Village as CAO in January 2016, and held the position for almost seven years.


The civil suit claims deJong was notified on December 9 of 2022, that his last day of employment with the Village would be December 16, and that he was a paid a severance of $133,859 at that time.


Citing amendments to his contract in 2018 and again in 2021, deJong claims he is entitled to a further $85,255, bringing the full amount to just over $219,000. The claim states that the Village has not acknowledged these amendments to the contract, which the claim states were "reviewed, discussed and approved at closed council meetings by the presiding mayor and council," and instead calculated his severance based on his initial contract signed in 2016.


In addition to the damages of more than $85,000 for breach of contract, deJong is seeking further damages for the "breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing," special damages, costs and interest.


The Watershed has been contacted by a number of local residents expressing concern over the cost of legal fees for this civil action. In March, resident Norma Rodgers filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request with the Village asking for details about the legal fees. She was told that she could expect to hear back by April 24, but received no formal reply.


On May 2, Village staff released the Accounts Payable listing for the first quarter of the year, with legal fees coming in at just under $51,000. The fourth quarter listing released with the agenda package on March 21 shows that legal fees in October and November were just over $4,600, which included some election-related costs. This means that legal fees paid by the Village during this council's term (to the end of March, the latest available figures) total just over $55,000. Should deJong's civil suit continue, legal costs to the Village could rise even further.


When approached by The Watershed for a comment, deJong declined to respond at this time.


According to the claim, the Village has 21 days to file a response.


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Norm B
Norm B
Jun 20, 2023

While it is water under the bridge now, imagine if the CAO had worked off his term post termination notice (as per the terms of the contract). No cost to taxpayers and close to 15 months of knowledge transfer as we transition to new staff. Seems to me the contract was actually set up to protect institutional knowledge and the community from irrational behaviour.

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I'm comforted to know that the Mayor has managed to achieve one of the promises stated on his election material:

"Restoring fiscal managment and STOP overspending"

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The Village legal fees to the end of April this year are more than double for the entire legal fees for last year. This council has spent over$50,000 with the firm Overholt Law and $20,000 with Young Anderson, since you took office seven months ago. Mr Mayor, Mr DeJong was dismissed without cause, details are well known about his claim which could exceed $ 350,000. Were is his claim, the contingent liability buried in the 2023 Budget projection and Five Year Plan ? Were is this this open and transparent government you keep tell us you have, just give us the truth and the actual facts, and quit the B.S.

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This case seems really black and white. He had a written contract that stated what his severance would be if he was let go. The new council appears to have willfully ignored it. Hard to imagine the Village winning this case, so instead of paying him $219k like they should have in December, we’ll likely wind up paying much more in damages, legal fees, etc. What were they thinking would happen?

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