Author: Ryan Windsor,
Image source: http://www.polarbear-ac.com/about/office-staff/
Central Saanich council has granted a leave of absence with pay to a councillor who appears to have left for work in the Cayman Islands.
Last month, Saanich Voice Online reported that Councillor Terry Siklenka might be removed from council for missing four regularly scheduled council meetings. He had already missed three meetings and the fourth meeting was scheduled for November 5th.
Shortly before the start of the fourth meeting, council held an in-camera meeting where it appears council granted Cllr. Siklenka a six month leave of absence with pay, instead of choosing disqualification and possibly holding a by-election. Mayor Alastair Bryson stated, “Council granted a request for leave of absence for Cllr. Siklenka for personal reasons.”
Saanich Voice Online located the absent councillor through a company website and learned that Cllr. Siklenka is working for Polar Bear Air Conditioning in the Cayman Islands.
According to the company’s website, “Terry is our Service Coordinator and has a wealth of experience, over 35 years! Terry has work (sic) as a technician, right up to being GM of a multi million dollar operation.”
Saanich Voice Online contacted Polar Bear, who confirmed that Siklenka works for them, but repeated attempts to speak to Siklenka himself were not successful.
Although the details surrounding council’s decision are not being shared with the public, it is not out of place for a council to grant leave on occasion.
Former councillor Chris Graham recalls his experience. “During my twelve years on council there had only been a few leave of absence requests and they were all dealt with in an open council. This is the first account where I have heard of a leave of absence request being handled in-camera. In addition, when I took a leave of absence in 2001 for Summer holidays, I was not compensated.”
According to the Peninsula News Review (Nov 9), Chief Administrative Officer Patrick Robbins reportedly said that Cllr. Siklenka will continue to receive his pay during his leave. He explains, since the Community Charter does not outline rules for remuneration should a councillor take leave, the decision of pay is left up to council.
Sidney Chief Administrative Officer Randy Humble and Victoria Chief Administrative Officer Rob Woodland were both asked if their respective councils have policies relating to pay during leaves of absence. Both confirmed that no such policies existed and that direction on that matter would normally come from council.
Presently Cllr. Siklenka’s commitments include Chair of the Public Works and Transportation Committee, Committee Member for the CRD Solid Waste Advisory Committee and council liaison for the First Nations Community to Community Forum, the Healthy Watershed Committee and the Chamber of Commerce.
At the Nov. 5th meeting, Mayor Alastair Bryson stated that council has been managing to fill Cllr. Siklenka’s role, but said he “would like to bring back a recommendation to council on how we can more accurately cover his role for up to six months.”
Cllr. Siklenka’s wife, Maxine Siklenka, was asked by phone if her husband would be returning to council. She replied, “Yes, he is recovering and will be back in town shortly.”