City of Nanaimo rehires manager of sanitation three weeks after she was let go

By Dominic Abassi
December 19, 2017 - 2:46pm

Charlotte Davis (middle) accepts an award from the Public Works Association of BC earlier this year.City of Nanaimo

NANAIMO — Less than three weeks after being let go, the City's manager of sanitation is getting a second kick at the can.

Charlotte Davis will return as the City's manager of sanitation, recycling and public works administration, chief administrative officer Tracy Samra confirmed.

Samra said she reflected on the decision to let Davis go last week and decided to reach out "to explore an alternate way forward."

"Being in a leadership position is difficult. Sometimes a leader needs to be more than just right. Sometimes you need to do what's right for your organization and for the community and in this case the right decision was to provide support to Ms. Davis, bring her back and let her continue to be the innovator she is in sanitation," Samra said.

Davis was let go barely a week after it was revealed the roll-out of phase one of Nanaimo's automated garbage collection cost nearly $450,000 more than expected.

Since then, details of the program have been intensely debated and questioned by councillors during open meetings. A report rewriting the City's bylaws to reflect the switch to automation was sent back to staff for clarification and correction before finally being adopted earlier this month.

In one Facebook thread discussing the program, coun. Jerry Hong was asked if anyone knew what was happening. "Honestly, no one does, and no one did before this program started. Things were constantly changing, IE the number or bins, the size of trucks, the extra bag tag system," Hong said.

On Tuesday, Samra described Davis as "a valuable team member, respected by staff and the community and she really enjoys serving the community in a meaningful way."

Samra said she was "not going to consider" potentially negative commentary around her change of heart.

"I believe the return of Ms. Davis to our workforce is the right decision. Sometimes it's about more than being right, it's about doing the right thing and being supportive of the staff and that's what I'm deciding to do," Samra said.

Days after Davis was let go, the City's unionized CUPE workers boycotted the annual Christmas lunch, something many believed was done partially in support of the popular manager.

Davis' return coincides with another change in Public Works.

Bill Sims, the City's long time manager of water resources, will now take on the senior position as director of engineering and public works. The role had not been filled since Geoff Goodall left in the summer of 2016. The file had been under the portfolio of the chief operations officer, before being posted as an open job on the City's website earlier this year.

On Dec. 15, the City posted a bid opportunity on their website for automated waste consulting services "to support the roll-out of phase two." Samra said it will now be up to Davis and Sims to decide if they require the extra support.

In an email to NanaimoNewsNOW, Davis said "I'm happy to be back and I'm looking forward to getting back to work."


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On Twitter: @domabassi

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