NANAIMO — A committee was formed to fill roles left in the wake of the City's two top employees going away on indefinite leave, as staff wait for Council to make a decision on how to move forward.
Mayor Bill McKay said clerk Sheila Gurrie, director of community development Dale Lindsay and director of human resources John Van Horne will lead the City for the time being.
“They are all very competent managers,” McKay said. “Council certainly appreciates the effort that they're putting forward to pull together and to do the work that's requested of them by Council.”
McKay said the committee was suggested and formed by senior staff, rather than being appointed by Council. He said there will also be input from different upper managers, depending what issues require attention.
“As it stands right now the department leaders will be pulling together and they will be coordinating their efforts collectively.”
The committee structure proposed by staff comes as they wait for Council to make important decisions on how to proceed just months away from an election. Nanaimo is currently without a chief administrative officer, a position which is not required by the Community Charter. A pair of independent investigations are underway involving both the CAO and the deputy-CAO and it's unclear when findings will be presented to councillors. There has been no announcement made on if Council will appoint or hire an interim CAO or ride out the current situation until after the election.
The Community Charter requires the City to have a corporate and financial officer, roles being handled by Gurrie and accounting services manager Laura Mercer respectively.
In a emailed statement to NanaimoNewsNOW, Van Horne pointed out the City's senior management team has always met to discuss operational issues.
“We've just acknowledged that we perhaps need to stay on top of things in each others' areas a bit more than in the past, to make sure that nothing falls between the cracks,” Van Horne said.
Coun. Sheryl Armstrong said she is confident in the City's ability to function, despite challenges with upper management.
“Our city is functioning, obviously it is a time of turmoil, but we have excellent staff that are committed to doing their very best for the city and they will continue to do that as they always have.”
CAO Tracy Samra has been on paid leave since Jan. 31 after she was arrested for allegedly uttering threats. No charges have been laid against her. Chief financial officer and deputy-CAO Victor Mema was suspended by Council last week for unspecified allegations. The City will only confirm Mema is on indefinite leave and an investigation was launched after Council “learned about an allegation of significant concern.”
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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