City of Nanaimo files response to lawsuit from facilitator

City claims Integrity Group was never actually hired to conduct work

The City of Nanaimo has struck back against a lawsuit filed by the Integrity Group, arguing that the Vancouver-based facilitator never actually conducted any work for the municipality because it hadn’t been hired to do so.

The Integrity Group had filed a civil claim earlier this year seeking $52,574 in unpaid invoices from the city for services dealing with issues between city councillors, staff and the mayor. The consulting firm claimed that company founder Heather MacKenzie had a meeting with Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay on May 4, 2015, where they discussed and agreed on a proposal that allowed Integrity Group to bill the city at $295 an hour and that the fee would be applied retroactively. The facilitator also claimed that McKay told MacKenzie that the city would pay the bill.

The Integrity Group ended up sending the city two invoices for work it claims happened between Jan. 8, 2015 and Dec. 18, 2015.

RELATED: City of Nanaimo being sued by human resources firm

However, according to a response to civil claim filed in the Supreme Court of B.C. last week, the city says it never hired the Integrity Group to perform work during that time period. The city denies it entered into any sort of contract that permitted the Integrity Group to bill the city at $295 an hour.

The city describes MacKenzie as a “legally sophisticated” individual who was “well aware” that McKay had no authority to legally bind the city into a agreement with her company, according to the court documents, which also state that even if McKay had told her that he had authority to enter the city into a contract with her company, she should have known that she could “not reasonably rely on that statement.”

In July 2015, the News Bulletin reported that McKay had hired the Integrity Group in an effort to address internal issues that he believed was affecting council’s ability to do business.

City councillors eventually decided to put the contract with The Integrity Group on hold in January 2016, after concerns were raised about the costs and whether any progress had been made in resolving issues between councillors and staff.

However by March of 2016, the Bulletin reported that the city had still not paid the Integrity Group and that no contract had ever actually been signed between the municipality and the facilitators.

Victor Mema, the city’s director of finance at the time, told the News Bulletin that even though no contract was signed, it didn’t matter because the city engaged the Integrity Group and agreed through actions.

The city has hired Victoria-based lawyer Robert Macquisten of Stewart McDannold Stuart, a firm that specializes in legal services for local governments.



nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Questions about solar system’s Planet 9 will be posed in Nanaimo next week

Astronomer discusses possibility of planet’s existence at Nanaimo Astronomy Society meeting March 28

Raine Maida, Chantal Kreviazuk will present new duo act in Nanaimo

Couple touring new album ‘I’m Going to Break Your Heart’ across Canada, starting at Port Theatre

UPDATE: Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre

Hospital and care residence in Nanaimo see flu outbreaks

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s Influenza A outbreak confined to rehabilitation unit

Dump truck driver hurt after highway crash in Ladysmith

One man airlifted to hospital after collision between dump truck and pickup truck Friday

UPDATE: Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre

Fire crews battle large blaze at Courtenay hostel

Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex said nobody was injured

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

Nanaimo pro wrestlers to duel tonight inside a steel cage

Scott Steel defends VIPW title against B.J. Laredo at the Departure Bay Activity Centre

Bucs lose to Cougars, hockey season is over

Nanaimo falls 4-3 to Victoria in Game 6 Friday night

Nanaimo’s 1 Port Drive could get a trial run as a temporary bus loop

Prideaux Street bus exchange expected to be relocated for six months this year

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Most Read