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This article was published 10/8/2018 (458 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
St. Francois Xavier residents enjoying the summer might not be aware of the recent upheaval at their municipal office.
At the July 17 council meeting, chief administrative officer Holly Krysko was dismissed without cause and effective immediately by a vote of three to two. Reeve Dwayne Clark and councillor Matthew Janzen voted against Krysko’s dismissal.
This action, and others taken by the SFX councillors on July 17, made Clark decide to hand in his resignation as reeve on Aug. 3.
"I couldn’t continue on," he said, on Aug. 8.
Clark said he was completely unaware that councillors Yvonne Wood, Delmer Nott and Rick VanWyk had been in contact with the municipal council’s lawyer John Stewart to prepare documents required for Krysko’s dismissal.
"There was no prior discussion of Holly’s performance," Clark said. "It was very surprising."
He said he and Krysko had reviewed the July 17 council meeting agenda a few days before the meeting, and there was no mention of an in-camera discussion relating to her position.
After Krysko, who was recording the meeting, left the council chamber following the vote to dismiss her, Clark said he was given the dismissal document to sign. He found that there were also printed copies of email correspondence between some of the councillors and the lawyer that showed the decision to dismiss Krysko had been underway for some time without his knowledge.
"This should be discussed together, but nobody had said one word about it," Clark said.
"These are all inappropriate actions. It’s a violation of the Municipal Act."
When he asked the councillors why they decided to dismiss Krysko, he said he was told by VanWyk that council was heading in a "new direction".
"I would like to know what new direction we’re heading in," Clark said.
VanWyk, Nott, Wood and Stewart all declined to comment on the situation. Krysko has stated that she’s considering taking legal action.
Immediately before the vote to dismiss Krysko was taken, VanWyk read out a statement officially censuring Clark for breaching the council’s code of conduct.
According to the censure statement recorded in council minutes, "the conduct of Reeve Dwayne Clark towards other council members and members of the public at the council meeting that occurred on June 19, 2018 does not reflect the standards and values of council."
Clark said his censure had also not been listed on the July 17 meeting agenda when he and Krysko reviewed it, so the action was a surprise to him.
He said he found out that a censure is rarely issued and is usually part of a lengthy process for a corrective action.
"When there’s no discussion or debate, rash decisions are made," he said.
Looking back on the June 19 meeting, Clark said there were many items on the agenda, with some left outstanding when the meeting was to end at 9 p.m. Council had recently voted to change its meeting time to start at 5:30 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. Clark said, when he moved to end the meeting shortly after 9, some councillors objected.
He also denies an allegation that he inappropriately scolded the municipal public works supervisor.
Former SFX reeve Roger Poitras was in the audience in the council chamber when Clark was censured. Poitras said he was surprised by the action and feels that the reasons should be made clear although the formal statement is available in the meeting minutes on the municipal website.
Clark called a special meeting on Aug. 3 to deal with municipal restructuring in the wake of Krysko’s dismissal, but handed in his resignation letter to the assistant CAO before the meeting started.
Since his resignation was made public, Clark said he’s received support from other reeves, mayors and the public.
"I’m not sure what I will do in terms of the upcoming election. This has been very stressful for me and my family," Clark said. "I will see what my future plans are for municipal politics."
He said he tried to make sure residents’ points-of-view were known on council matters, and enjoyed representing SFX council on larger bodies such as the Association of Manitoba Municipalities and the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region.
When contacted on Aug. 8, longtime resident Lori Ann Regnier, who operates Blue Lagoon Organics with her family, said she was sorry to hear about Clark’s resignation.
"I liked him. He thought outside the box and listened to people," she said.
Use of a censure
According to information from the provincial government:
"As set out in The Municipal Act, councils must establish and adhere to a Code of Conduct, which sets guidelines for the standards and values that the council expects council members to meet. A council may censure a member if it determines that the member has breached the code of conduct. Censuring a council member is a public reprimand which is documented in the minutes of a council meeting, in the form of a resolution. For censure to be approved, a resolution to censure must be approved by the majority of all the council members, plus one.
Censure may be used for a breach of the code of conduct as determined by Council. Content of individual Codes of Conduct are at the discretion of each municipality, however the Municipal Act Procedures Manual suggests respectful conduct, respect for decision-making processes, preferential treatment, respect for the role of administration, and election campaign work as items to address in Codes of Conduct."
A provincial spokesperson said the Province has been in contact with the RM of St. Francois Xavier and continues to provide assistance.
Community journalist — The Headliner
Andrea Geary is the community journalist for The Headliner. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org Call her at 204-697-7124