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Yellowknife councillors call for inquiry into complaints against city bylaw manager

City council unanimously passed a motion Monday calling for an independent investigator to look into complaints of misconduct against a city manager.

‘It’s a serious situation that requires a serious response,’ says Coun. Julian Morse

City council has unanimously voted to hold an independent investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour against manager of municipal enforcement Doug Gillard. (Priscilla Hwang/CBC)

There will be an inquiry into allegations of highly inappropriate conduct by Yellowknife's manager of municipal enforcement, Doug Gillard, and how those allegations were dealt with.

On Monday Yellowknife city council unanimously passed a motion brought forward by Coun. Adrian Bell calling for an independent investigator to look into the claims.

The call for an investigation comes after allegations by former municipal enforcement employees surfaced recently accusing Gillard of bullying and harassing staff for years up to 2014. 

Doug Gillard, manager of municipal enforcement for the City of Yellowknife, is at the centre of an investigation called into his conduct. (CBC)

An investigation into some of the complaints was made at the time, and Gillard was reportedly given a letter of discipline and ordered to take sensitivity training. The complaints against Gillard were handled in 2014 by Dennis Kefalas, the city's senior administrative officer at the time, who also socialized with Gillard, according to emails obtained by CBC.

One of the accusations against Gillard is that he used public video surveillance cameras to eye up women and invited some city staff to join him in the practice.

These allegations weren't included in the original complaints; instead they date back to 2014 or earlier. But city administration took the step late last week of temporarily deactivating most of the city's 64 security cameras.

"It's a serious situation that requires a serious response," said Coun. Julian Morse.

Morse and the rest of city council invoked a clause that allows for an independent investigation to be called during a crisis.

Councillor Shauna Morgan supports the inquiry, but said employees need to trust that their personnel matters will remain confidential.

Councillor Shauna Morgan cautions against a 'witch trial' of staff members. (submitted)

"Specific human resources issues should never be addressed through a court of public opinion," she said.

"There's a very real danger of these things turning into a public lynching or a witch trial of staff members."

Morgan said she's spoken to many people since the allegations were reported widely in Yellowknife media a week ago, and found there's very little public desire to spend money to investigate complaints that date back four years.

Coun. Niels Konge and others are reserving judgement until the investigation is complete.

"I certainly as a councillor have not seen anything that has said 100 per cent these things have happened or have not happened," he said.

"So that's one of the things, for me, that the investigation is important to find out."

The scope of the investigation will be worked out by a steering committee appointed by council. The committee will also be responsible for hiring an investigator.

No timeline for the process has been determined.

With files from Richard Gleeson

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