An investigation has been launched at London City Hall after it was discovered the wrong bylaw has been in use for at least 16 years.
It’s the latest development in an unusual story at city hall that began with the routine hiring of Kelly Scherr, the new city engineer.
Typically, city council creates a bylaw when a senior manager is hired, that bylaw is rescinded when they leave the position. However, City Manager Art Zuidema claimed that wasn’t necessary in Scherr’s case.
Zuidema’s comment raised the ire of ward 7 councillor Josh Morgan who sought to ensure senior bureaucrats report to both city council and the city manager, not just the city manager.
A motion by Morgan was later found to be using an incorrect version of the bylaw, which sparked the review for more information.
Zuidema told the Corporate Services Committee Tuesday the wrong bylaw has been used by city staff for 16 years.
“The impact is that the civic administration has been relying on incorrect versions of the bylaw since at least the year 2000.”
Zuidema added section 1817 of the bylaw, as it appears on the city website, doesn’t reflect a resolution of council and as such, is not a policy that was approved by council. In fact, the last council approved update to the bylaw dates back to 1982.
Section 1817 is part of the council policy manual, a bylaw detailing municipal powers, roles and responsibilities.
“I’m not making this glib, it’s not a laughing matter obviously. I’m very concerned about it and I will indicate to you that we’re going to fix this and we’re going to take steps and I’ve already taken steps,” said Zuidema.
Since 1982 updates were made to the bylaw by city staff, not council, making them invalid.
Speaking at committee, Morgan said the issue needs to be clarified.
“It’s clear to me that these are appointments that council should consider making and we need to clarify that so it is a definitive item and not a question.”
A review of all council policies has been launched by all departments at city hall to determine if any other bylaws may have been incorrectly updated by staff instead rather than council.