One of Langley Township’s longest-serving councillors has been censured and ordered to take in-depth training on the Respectful Workplace Policy.
Councillor Kim Richter’s actions allegedly impacted the workplace and “members of staff” according to a motion released Monday morning following last week’s closed council meeting.
The names of the staff have been redacted due to privacy policies, and there is no detail provided about the interaction.
The motion approved by council on Sept. 24 mandates Richter take the in-depth training, and also that all council members receive a workshop on the Respectful Workplace Policy.
Richter argued that she was censured “for doing my job” in a press release Monday morning.
“In October 2017 I brought to public attention the fact that a sitting member of council was doing business with the Township. I did not think that was right at the time and considered it my duty to say so publicly, not only in council and to the press but also on social media including Facebook,” Richter wrote.
Richter referred to the censure as a “political stunt to sully my good name,” and called the five councillors who voted in favour of the censure and the investigation the “gang of five.”
Mayor Jack Froese noted that the council is the only body that has the power to discipline a councillor.
The mayor said the majority want to avoid such incidents in future, which is why they mandated a workshop for the whole council when it convenes after the elections later this month.
“We would rather prevent this sort of thing from happening,” Froese said.
The council received a report on July 11 by Donovan Plomp that sparked the motion of censure.
The investigation and follow up will cost about $50,000, according to a press release from the Township.
The investigation was sparked by a dispute between Richter and Coun. Angie Quaale, but the actual reason for the censuringisn’t directly related to that incident.
In 2017, Well Seasoned, a gourmet food store and catering company owned by Quaale, was chosen by Township staff to cater the annual Township Farm Tour.
Richter wrote a letter to council in October arguing that the contract didn’t meet the “smell test,” and saying there was apossible conflict of interest with a sitting councillor bidding on Township contracts.
The Township’s legal team said there was no conflict, as Well Seasoned had won the bid because they were the lowest bidder who could meet the requirements of sourcing their food from the Township. Well Seasoned’s bid was $1,453.76, cheaper by about $500 than the next nearest bidder.
The dispute created a great deal of discussion on social media, and in the middle of the incident, Richter announced she would run for mayor and made the controversy part of her reasons for putting her name forward.
“Two weeks ago, six of the nine current members on Langley Township council (including the mayor) voted to say it’s okay for elected members of the council to bid on Township work, get Township work, and have their businesses benefit from Township resources while on council,” read an ad Richter bought announcing her candidacy. “I believe this is not OK!”
In August, Richter announced she was ending her run for mayor and that she would run for council again.
Also in November, Coun. Charlie Fox put forward a motion asking for a legal opinion on whether the Respectful Workplace Policy had been violated. That led to the investigation.
However, while it was largely the social media furor that sparked the motion and led to the report, the Township’s press release Monday noted that the sanctions are not “in relation to social media interactions.”
Froese said that the incident was linked to the catering dispute, but couldn’t say more due to privacy issues.
“We’re very limited in what we can say,” Froese said.
The Township is not releasing the actual report that contains the reasons for the censure.
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