City cancels mayor’s censure hearing after legal gaffe

Last-minute change comes after provincial authorities said city manager and councillors overstepped their authority
Bill McKay
Mayor Bill McKay
A secret hearing to censure Nanaimo mayor Bill McKay has been cancelled at the last minute, News Nanaimo has learned.

The sudden move came after provincial authorities said an earlier hearing decision overseen by city manager Tracy Samra had overstepped the council’s legal authority.

City clerk Sheila Gurrie issued the cancellation notice on Friday for a hearing that was set to take place on Monday at 1:00pm.

No new date has been set and no official reasons were given for the cancellation.

It’s understood that Ms. Samra, a lawyer herself who was embarrassed by provincial criticism of the earlier decision, is seeking more legal advice.

Undisclosed date

Said Mr. McKay: “I was advised the hearing has been postponed with no new date offered other than it is expected to be rescheduled for a so far undisclosed date in February.”

News Nanaimo reported January 14 that provincial authorities had found a censure hearing against councillor Diane Brennan exceeded the council’s power when it ruled she had “violated” provincial laws.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and well-known municipal lawyer John Alexander all said the council’s actions usurped the role of the courts and infringed on provincial jurisdiction.

Cancellation Notice
The censure hearing was cancelled by this notice on Friday

Allegations collapsed

The mayor is facing censure on allegations that Ms. Samra and the council majority led by Bill Bestwick tried to pursue through a civil suit, citizens’ court petition and an RCMP complaint.

But all of those actions collapsed when the two lawsuits were shut down without being served and the police probe ended without a report to the Crown.

In a statement on December 27, the council said it would would pursue censure against Mr. McKay instead to “achieve a meaningful outcome.”


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  • Very happy for Mayor McKay. And now the voters of Nanaimo are preparing to “achieve a meaningful outcome” of their own – the removal of the Bestwick Gang from the political landscape of Nanaimo.

  • I can’t believe stuff like this can go on. Witch hunt, coo, or kangaroo court, you pick. All I know is that I feel Nanaimo citizens are no longer a priority. I have sent a note to the Minister of Municipalities to PLEASE look into this and to start with newsnanaimo info. Have you done a follow-up (which I can’t find anywhere) on whether or not the city hired an in-house lawyer?

    • That job search doesn’t close for a few days, but it will likely proceed. I will look into what councillors did or didn’t do on this.

      • We must rid the city council of this bunch of persons trying to run city of Nanaimo. Starting with the city manager and the financial manager and get rid of the incompetent council members