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Sooke's top staffer resigns

Aug 08 2012

The District of Sooke's chief administrative officer has resigned from the municipality's top position after being away from the job since mid-June.

The district sent out an announcement about Evan Parliament's resignation Tuesday afternoon, indicating the "terms of any settlement ... are confidential and cannot be released."

Parliament is the second senior staff member to leave the district since November's election, but council members say there is no conflict between politicians and their employees.

The district's top employee - who made $152,000 in 2011 - had been away from the job for about six weeks before the announcement, with little explanation offered for his absence.

Asked in June, Mayor Wendal Milne would only say his top staff member was on "vacation" and would not comment about whether Parliament initiated the time off or was forced to leave.

"I can't comment on that," Milne said.

"He's on vacation. I can't comment any further when it comes to personnel issues."

Parliament's exit comes about four months after former finance director Sue-Lyn Tarnowski left her position in April. Both Parliament and Tarnowski have declined to comment about their departures.

Acting mayor Maja Tait would not provide any additional information, either.

Asked if there has been conflict between senior staff and the new council, Tait would only say "there is a new approach to doing business in Sooke and that comes with new leadership."

Since the election, council - under Milne's guidance - has conducted reviews of several municipal agreements, including those governing legal services, sewer services and the Prestige Hotel development.

In May, the politicians discovered that municipal staff in 2009 made an agreement with the owners of the Prestige Hotel to defer $660,000 in development cost charges.

Milne said he and his council uncovered reports that show Kelowna-based Prestige Hotel and Resorts did not pay its fees before moving ahead with construction of the $50-million waterfront resort.

The current council questioned whether provincial laws would permit the agreement, but no information has been made public about any further review.

Three councillors who were in office when the agreement was made - Herb Haldane, Bev Berger and Maja Tait - said they were unaware of the deal.

dspalding@timescolonist.com