REGINA - It appears Regina City Manager Niki Anderson has the support of the vast majority of council in the wake of a court filing against her by two councillors.
According to the council package posted online, Regina's City Clerk has been advised a notice of motion will be submitted at the Wednesday, Dec. 7 council meeting, expressing confidence in Anderson.
This is the latest turn of events in the ongoing dispute over the city budget initiated by two members of council: Dan LeBlanc and Andrew Stevens.
Both councillors had filed a King’s Bench court action on Nov. 22 against Anderson for not including a line item of $24.9 million to solve homelessness throughout the city in the 2023-24 budget document. LeBlanc is acting as the lawyer in the case, with Stevens and local social activist Florence Stratton as applicants.
The legal action is now before the courts. In the meantime, the Notice of Motion is being submitted at City Hall and signed by Mayor Sandra Masters as well as eight councillors: Cheryl Stadnichuk, Bob Hawkins, Lori Bresciani, John Findura, Terina Nelson (formerly Shaw), Shanon Zachidniak, Jason Mancinelli, and Landon Mohl.
The resolution in the Notice of Motion calls for council to affirm and convey its continued confidence in Anderson, and to “express its disappointment over the negative impact on City Council’s operational integrity and oversight that the initiated court action has created.” The notice of motion is slated to come up at the end of the agenda of Wednesday’s meeting.
The entire rift between Stevens and LeBlanc on one side, and the rest of council on the other, stems from the release of the proposed Regina multiyear budget on Nov. 22, where administration proposed mill rate increases of 4.67 and 4.66 per cent in 2023 and 2024.
But officials did not include a dedicated line item to homeless funding in the budget. The rationale from administration for not including it was the financial impact. Administration contended if the funding was in the budget, the mill rate increases required would be 21.73 per cent in 2023, and 4.24 per cent in 2024.
That same day, LeBlanc filed the application against Anderson in court.
When he spoke to reporters about it at City Hall, LeBlanc explained the reason was because council’s direction to administration on the homeless issue was not followed. Council had previous voted unanimously on June 15 for a motion calling for the inclusion of “full operational funding to solve homelessness throughout the City using a housing first, supportive housing model.”
“I say elected people run the show, and the unelected City Manager follows our clear direction or ought to do so,” LeBlanc told reporters.
When Mayor Masters was asked about the court filing at that same media availability, she called it “disgusting.”
Masters alleged "tones of sexism" in the treatment of Anderson, who herself is brand new to the Regina City Manager’s position, having started last month after her previous role for the City of Edmonton.
It was also the mayor’s contention that administration was never told to recommend the homeless funding line item in the June 15 motion. “Administration’s job is to give advice on their recommendations to council and they did so. Whether or not council accepts them is something else entirely and up for debate at budget.”
The court application against Anderson came up in King’s Bench court in Regina on Nov. 29 and had been adjourned to Dec. 13, to provide time for opposing counsel representing Anderson to prepare a response.
Meanwhile, the 2023-24 multiyear budget is scheduled to go to council for deliberation at their Dec. 14 meeting. Dec. 15 and 16 have been set aside as deliberation dates if needed.