Nanaimo council puts contract with Integrity Group on hold

NANAIMO – Answers sought on contract with group hired to improve relations.

Work by a facilitator, hired by the mayor to help council get along, is now on hold and council is seeking information on costs and results of the contract.

An arrangement with the Integrity Group has been under review by the interim city manager, Tracy Samra, who reported Monday that city council made the request in an in-camera meeting Jan. 11.

The facilitator was hired by Mayor Bill McKay last June to help council get along. By September, the cost was reported to have reached $50,000. The mayor anticipated another $25,000 to $50,000 for the second phase of the work. Before Samra advised council to sanction discussion on the topic, she said in an open meeting that council asked her to take a look at a work arrangement with the Integrity Group and that $20,000 had been set aside for the project. It’s not known how much the work has actually cost.

Coun. Jim Kipp told the News Bulletin that council asked the city manager to look at the contract, including its background, agreements and information. He’s concerned there hasn’t been a report and he also said he’s not aware of all the background to the contract.

“The consultant was supposed to get to the mayor and bring a report and we haven’t seen the report yet,” he said. “The mayor is always talking in the paper about how good it’s going to be and now we just want to see how good it is.”

Coun. Gord Fuller claims to be in the dark and said the purpose of the work has become unclear. He also has questions about the allocation of additional dollars.

Both Kipp and Fuller report improvements regarding relations on council and expressed a desire to end the contract, although neither was sure if the contract has already been terminated.

Samra also said the work has been placed on hold.

“I am a lawyer, there’s a difference between terminating a contract and executing termination rights and placing efforts and energy and money and budget on hold. So however you want to interpret that you may do so,” she said.

McKay was not available for comment.