Board Chair Response to Alternate Director John Henderson’s Statement
As Board Chair of the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), I feel it necessary to respond to a public statement that was provided by Alternate Director John Henderson on November 16, 2023.
To begin, what we cannot lose sight of, is that Alternate Director Henderson’s comments, directed at an SCRD staff member and witnessed by staff members, fellow Directors and members of the public have had a very real and lasting effect. This issue was initiated by him, was directed at staff in front of witnesses who immediately documented what they heard, reported their concerns, and, as per SCRD Policy and the WorkSafeBC regulations on bullying and harassment, it had to be investigated and ultimately addressed. To be clear, it could not be ignored, swept under the carpet, or forgotten because he eventually expressed some regret. At the advice of legal counsel, an independent law firm conducted the investigation, arrived at their findings, and summarized those findings into a report that was presented to the SCRD Board.
As Board Chair, I will always stand up for our staff and we do not tolerate any comments or actions that create a toxic workplace. The actions taken by the SCRD Board were to ensure that staff could expect that the Board and SCRD management will take whatever action is necessary to promote a work environment that is free of bullying and harassment.
It should be noted that on numerous occasions, Alternate Director Henderson has been in the company of the numerous staff who were present at the meeting where he made his comments. He knows who they are, and he has had ample opportunity to apologize and/or directly express his remorse or regret. I know of no restriction that would prevent him from providing an apology to those staff, especially to the person to whom he directed his comments. He has had over six months to take such action and has not done so. An immediate apology might have gone a long way to addressing the concerns of the Board. Only he can advise why he has not apologized to the recipient of his comments and to those that were nearby.
For those that are not fully aware of the process, Alternate Director Henderson has not resigned from the SCRD Board. He has apparently, publicly, noted an intention to resign. For Alternate Director Henderson to be replaced on the SCRD Board, the District of Sechelt must first identify a replacement and notify the SCRD of the change. This has not yet happened.
I agree with Alternate Director Henderson that we should focus on important priorities. It is unfortunate that he did not show the restraint that should, in my opinion, be expected of his office and chose to contravene the Board’s Code of Conduct Policy and the SCRD’s Respectful Workplace Policy. His actions and his actions alone have resulted in expense to the SCRD and extra work for our staff.
We will continue to encourage and expect nothing but respectful dialogue at the SCRD Board table, and I am confident that the District of Sechelt will be well represented by the two outstanding individuals who currently sit on our Board.
I hope that, for the sake of the staff who bore the brunt of Alternate Director Henderson’s comments, they accept that this Board has taken the necessary and appropriate action and that we can now move forward and concentrate on the important work that we have been elected to do in our communities.
Board Chair, Sunshine Coast Regional District