Ex-Central Saanich councillor Terry Siklenka’s resignation was made official during Monday night’s regular council meeting but Mayor Alastair Bryson speculated a by-election isn’t expected to happen until sometime in March.
“We’ll be asking staff to appoint a Chief Electoral Officer,” said Bryson. “By the time we have one appointed I would expect we’ll be looking into March.”
Bryson spoke on the topic of Siklenka’s resignation, saying that had he had no knowledge of the then-councillor’s plan to take up work in the Cayman Islands.
He added that he would have sought a reconsideration from council had he known.
“Had councillor Siklenka not resigned last week I was prepared to use my authority as mayor to require council to reconsider its prior decision to grant leave in light of the new information,” assured Bryson.
Council then briefly discussed the issue of Siklenka’s resignation and their choice to grant him a leave of absence prior to that, with most of council agreeing that they would have made the same decision if they were provided with the same information again.
“In my opinion, a member of council would have to have significant reasons to vote to deny a duly elected councillor’s reasonable request for leave to deal with personal issues which he has stated are beyond his control,” Bryson said.
“This is especially true when the denial of leave would result in the immediate disqualification from elected office, as was the case in this instance.”
“With the information we had I would have still voted to grant the leave,” said Coun. John Garrison.
But other councillors weren’t as convinced that granting six months of leave was right decision.
“I’ve certainly learned a lesson in this,” said Coun. Adam Olsen, who added that leave on a month-to-month basis may have been a more appropriate approach.
“In hindsight granting six months of leave was a mistake. It was an act of goodwill that was taken advantage of.”
In-camera meeting minutes reveal the vote to grant Siklenka six months of paid leave was only opposed by one council member, Coun. Zeb King, who remained fairly quiet on the subject during the meeting, only wishing Siklenka well in his future endeavors.
Bryson also noted during the meeting that Siklenka had been in correspondence with staff and that he had voluntarily made arrangements to reimburse the municipality for pay and benefits received during his leave.
It is still unclear whether or not Siklenka will be required to repay the fees associated with his registration and non-attendance of the Union of Municipalities of British Columbia convention held this past September. The convention ran from Sept. 24-28 and Sikenka did not formally request leave from council until Sept. 29.