British Columbia

Kamloops councillors to review mayor's suspension of key city staffer

Kamloops city councillors are expected to meet on Thursday to decide whether or not to support Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson's move earlier this week to suspend the city's acting chief administrative officer.

Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson says he suspended the city's acting CAO in effort to 'change things up'

People sit in rows on chairs.
Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson (left) said he suspended the city's acting CAO in an effort to "change things up" at city hall. (Marcella Bernardo/CBC)

Kamloops city councillors are expected to meet on Thursday to decide whether or not to support Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson's move earlier this week to suspend Byron McCorkell, the city's acting chief administrative officer (CAO).

The mayor said he's tired of the status quo of crime in Kamloops, and wanted to "change things up" at city hall.

"I just think that we need to go [in] a different direction and make some changes. I mean that's why I was elected, on change," he told CBC News.

Hamer-Jackson made public safety a top priority during his mayoral campaign. 

In an interview Wednesday, he said that after nearly a year-and-a-half in power he wants to see that change. 

"I continue to see things worse, continue to get emails and calls, and people constantly come up to me saying, you know, 'Well, nothing's changed.'"

Meeting in mayor's office

CAOs provide the overall management of a city and ensure that policies and directions from city council are implemented. They also report back to council on how things are going. 

Asked whether he felt that ongoing crime issues are a result of the CAO's decisions, Hamer-Jackson said "No, I'm not saying that."

"I just think that we need a change and there's certain things that have been happening, you know, over the last little while," he told CBC News, without elaborating on what those "certain things" are.

The mayor said he called McCorkell into his office on Tuesday for a meeting. He also said that he asked Coun. Margot Middleton to be there as a witness.

"I just told him that I was suspending him as of right now. He told me I couldn't do that." 

"I will be preparing a letter for him … and he told me I'd have to call a special meeting [to suspend him]."

McCorkell has worked for the city for nearly 25 years. He was appointed acting CAO on March 7 when it was announced that CAO David Trawin would be away on personal leave for an undetermined amount of time.

CBC News reached out to McCorkell for comment but he wasn't immediately available.

Charter says council must approve

Hamer-Jackson said he told McCorkell that, according to B.C.'s community charter, the mayor has the authority to suspend city staffers but he must ask city councillors to back him up at the next council meeting.

Section 151 of the charter says that if the mayor suspends someone, they need to report their decision to city council at the next meeting. Council can either support the mayor's decision and fire the staffer, or reject it and vote to reinstate them.

Kamloops Deputy Mayor Mike O'Reilly said he was shocked by the mayor's action, characterizing it as "irresponsible" and "unprecedented."

"At this point, all of the council and all of the staff support acting CAO McCorkell. We support what he's done, he has an impeccable record. He has 25 years of experience in municipal government. He's highly sought after throughout the province and we support him."

According to the charter, decisions like this are made by a majority of the council members present at the meeting.

'Issue of the day'

O'Reilly said that although it's within the mayor's power to suspend someone, he doesn't think the mayor used that power appropriately.

"It should be used in emergency measures when needed, not once somebody happens to have an issue of the day and they want to go after somebody, which is very clear that's what the mayor has decided to do."

At the Thursday meeting, which O'Reilly says the council scheduled as quickly as it could, the elected officials will review the mayor's decision about McCorkell.

"I fully hope and expect that [the mayor] will be there at the meeting to let us know as to why he is suspended. And there may be very good reason, I don't know."

Hamer-Jackson is no stranger to controversy, and has had conflict with council in the past.

The province hired Peter Fassbender, a former provincial cabinet minister, as a municipal adviser to help repair the relationship between council and the mayor. However, he was later removed from his role, and the province released little information about the decision.

A new adviser — former Abbotsford mayor Henry Braun — was appointed last month. He plans to deliver his recommendations to the province by June. 


Tessa Vikander is a CBC News reporter covering local and national news. Previously she reported for Toronto Star, Reuters, IndigiNews and CTV News. You can contact her at

With files from Tom Popyk and Marcella Bernardo