Victoria city manager’s contract extended by five years

Move solidifies city leadership, says Mayor Dean Fortin

After exactly three years on the job, Gail Stephens has been offered an extension to her contract.

“We’re happy that we’ve nailed her down for the next five years,” Mayor Dean Fortin said of the city manager. “We’ve been really happy with what Gail has been able to accomplish.”

Stephens has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women three times by the Women’s Executive Network. She oversees a budget of $200 million and more than 1,000 employees. Her contract, which was due to expire in 2014, now runs to 2017.

Asked why council voted to extend Stephens’ contract now, Fortin said, “We’re heading into some very interesting times; having continuity at the top was very important to council.”

He would not comment on whether Stephens had received competing offers.

Coun. Shellie Gudgeon, along with Coun. Ben Isitt, voted against renewing the contract during an in-camera meeting held earlier this month.

“I didn’t have enough information,” she said. “That is in no way a criticism of Gail Stephens and the job she is doing.”

Gudgeon said she was not given access to the contract she was being asked to extend.

Negotiations over labour costs – and potential reductions – should be done before renewing a contract, Gudgeon said.

“We missed an opportunity.”

Stephens earned $231,000 in 2011, including salary and benefits. The terms of her contract remain the same, with no annual pay increases stipulated.

Tomorrow (July 19), council is scheduled to have a closed meeting, led by the human resources department, to discuss senior staff. The discussion is expected to include compensation.

Current city policy ties annual pay increases for senior management – including Stephens – to those negotiated by unionized staff, but council could vote to rescind that policy at any time.

Coun. Lisa Helps supports the contract extension.

“There is already instability in the organization,” she said.

As council talks about ways to cut its budget, staff worry about losing their jobs, Helps added. “We need somebody at the staff level to guide the process. I think it makes sense to send a strong message to say her contract is long term.”

rholmen@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A fire destroyed a commercial building on Idlemore Road early Tuesday. The fire is under investigation. (Kenn Mount photo)
UPDATE: Early morning fire destroys new Sooke distillery

Firefighters still investigating cause of Island Shiners Distillery blaze early Tuesday

Langford Fire Rescue (Black Press Media file photo)
Langford looks to strike out on its own for emergency fire dispatch services

Mayor Stew Young says the city is large enough to negotiate solo

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Search continues for Saanich man Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

Support from community, police keeps his mother hopeful

Victoria Police Department looks to identify a person of interest after a Friday night stabbing. (VicPD handout)
Police seek person of interest after Victoria stabbing

Friday night assault leaves one with potentially life-altering injuries

Oak Bay Police Department briefs for May 3 to 9. (Black Press Media file photo)
Copper wire stolen after Oak Bay construction site targeted twice by thieves

Cop briefs include pair of impounded cars, swiped back medication

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Experts now predict 33.6% rise in B.C. home sales for 2021

BCREA economists also predict home prices to increase by 14.3%

B.C. Auditor General Michael Pickup in 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. didn’t effectively manage conservation lands program: auditor general

Michael Pickup says staff had limited approaches to resolving the unauthorized use of the most at-risk conservation lands

The majority of city council votes in favour of this design for a new Salmon Arm flag on Monday, May 10, 2021. (City of Salmon Arm image)
Majority of council salutes new flag for Salmon Arm

Two councillors raise concerns about logo being too corporate for a flag

(Pixabay)
B.C. doctors could face consequences for spreading COVID misinformation: college

College says doctors have a higher level of responsibility to not spread incorrect information

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives his COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccination in Ottawa, Friday, April 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
75% of Canadians need 1st vaccine dose to have more normal summer: Trudeau

The country is on track to hit a major milestone on the road to COVID-19 herd immunity Tuesday, with 40% vaccinated with a 1st dose

A black bear, dubbed Huckleberry by Deep Cove, B.C., residents died on July 31, 2020, after becoming conditioned to food and humans. (North Shore Black Bear Society photo)
Fewer dead bears, more fines: Advocates call for B.C. conservation officer reform

B.C. Bear Alliance wants to see body cameras on conservation officers after more than 600 black bears were killed this past year

Condemned building of the Twin Gables Motel in Crofton is not safe and yet a teen has been climbing around on the roof while others were ripping the siding off the building. (Photo submitted)
Destructive behaviour by teens wreaking havoc on Island community

Crofton residents becoming fed up with the constant vandalism and fires

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Drug users were shut out of Vancouver’s decriminalization proposal, critics say, demanding redo

The coalition is asking the city to raise the proposed drug thresholds from a 3-day supply

Most Read