REGINA - Regina City Manager Niki Anderson got a vote of confidence from City Council at their meeting Wednesday.
Council voted 9-0 in favor of a resolution to affirm and convey its continued confidence in Anderson, and also to “express its disappointment over the negative impact on City Council’s operational integrity and oversight that the initiated court action has created.”
The resolution was part of a Notice of Motion moved by Mayor Sandra Masters and supported by eight councillors.
The resolution comes in the wake of a court action by two councillors, Dan LeBlanc and Andrew Stevens, against Anderson over her exclusion of funding to end homelessness by a housing first model in the multiyear budget, as was the direction in a June 15 resolution passed at council.
LeBlanc is acting as lawyer with Stevens and local activist Florence Stratton as applicants, with the case set to be heard in court next week.
The notice of motion needed unanimous consent to waive notice to go to the floor immediately, and that happened as both LeBlanc and Stevens recused themselves due to being implicated in the motion. LeBlanc and Stevens also did not vote on the resolution that was debated.
In the discussion on the resolution, councillors spoke in favor of Anderson and decried the actions of LeBlanc and Stevens in taking the matter to court.
“This is a step backwards. I’m embarrassed to be a council member at this time,” said Coun. Terina Nelson about the court action. “I hope we can put this behind us and learn from this and move forward.”
Regarding the unanimous June 15 vote to include the line item for homeless funding in the budget, Coun. Lori Bresciani told council she looked back to see the tapes from the meeting, and made the point the way Anderson responded to it was the correct one. She said that was exactly how Anderson had formed it in the budget book.
“When I approved that motion that Coun. LeBlanc brought forward, that was to support the motion to go to the budget for discussions, not to be included in the budget that administration brings forward,” said Bresciani.
“On my time on council, I’ll tell you this - I have never ever approved anything to go right into the budget with not even knowing how much it’s going to cost,” said Bresciani.
“I will very very clearly state that when I supported the motion on homelessness, it was to go to the budget for discussions, not to be accepted in and be part of the recommendation from administration. That was never ever the intent… and I didn’t support that.”
She added that what she’s heard from her residents was that they “were upset it’s even come to this.”
Coun. Bob Hawkins said he had “complete confidence in Niki Anderson as city manager” and added the matter “could have been entirely resolved where there was ambiguity by bringing it back to council and allowing council, democratically elected, to sort it out.”
“I’m disappointed, as a lawyer, that the courts have been drawn into essentially what is a political matter,” said Hawkins. He said it was an inappropriate move to draw the courts into this position.
“Setting of a municipal budget is one of the most political activities I can imagine. I think that’s our job. I think we should do our job, and I don’t think we needed to rely on the courts and involve them in any way.”
The vote of confidence in support of Anderson then took place with the resolution passing 9-0.
Following the meeting Mayor Masters said “as an employer it’s enormously important that our employee know she has our confidence and that we want her to do the things that she was hired to do and to lead administration as she was employed to do.”
It was important “as a collective to understand, make a statement that she was supported by the balance of council.”
The mayor also indicated, in response to reporters, that there would not be any other motions to punish LeBlanc and Stevens at this time. “Right now our concern is we have three days of budget deliberations next week,” she said.