Six-term Township of Langley Councillor Kim Richter has been formally censured and will be required to take in-depth training on Respectful Workplace Policy, according to a statement released Monday by the municipality.
Council voted at a closed meeting on Sept. 24 to approve a motion that requires Richter to complete in-depth training and all other members of council to participate in a workshop on the Respectful Workplace Policy.
The action — the result of a Nov. 27 vote supporting a motion by Coun. Charlie Fox to determine whether the municipality’s policy had been violated — is being taken because “the Township has a legal obligation to provide a respectful workplace, as is the case with all municipalities,” the release states.
Although the originating November 2017 resolution of council spoke to investigating social media interactions in relation to the Respectful Workplace Policy, the Sept. 24 resolution does not contain any sanctions of any council members in relation to social media interactions.
According to the motion voted upon on Sept. 24, Richter’s actions are alleged to have “impacted the workplace for members of staff.”
Responding in a prepared release, Coun. Richter said she is being censured by “the Mayor’s majority on Langley Township Council” for “doing my job.”
“I unequivocally reject any suggestion in this resolution that there was any reasonable basis for the Gang of 5 on Langley Township Council to censure me for anything I have done or said,” Richter wrote.
“I will not allow my constitutional right to freedom of expression to be chilled by censorship or attacks on my reputation.
“I also have no hesitation in saying that this resolution has nothing to do with my use of social media… . Nothing I have said on social media (or to the press or in council) is the actual subject of this motion of censure.”
Richter called the investigation “an extraordinary waste of tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars.”
The cost of the investigation, which took nearly 11 months from the original council resolution, is expected to be about $50,000, which the Township describes as “standard when staff are affected by alleged respectful workplace policy breaches.”
A motion of censure is not censorship, but “Council’s way of indicating that the actions of Councillor Richter were unacceptable,” said Mayor Jack Froese.
Noting the allegations come just weeks before the municipal election on Oct. 20, Froese acknowledged that some people may believe the timing was politically motivated, and said some of the reasons the decision took so long are beyond council’s control.
“The motion (happened in) November 2017. The time it took to contract with the investigator, the thoroughness of the investigation, it takes time. It went as quickly as it can.
“It has come in the last meeting of the term, it’s just the way it is. We struggled with that and wanted to make sure we were fair with everyone.”
Richter indicated she plans to confer with her lawyer about legal options to “vindicate the reputation which I have built up over my many years of public service.”