Chilliwack – Former Chilliwack City Councilor Sam Waddington has had the breach of trust case resolved using ‘alternative measures’. In a statement from Current Mayor Ken Popove, FVN/chillTV has learned that Waddington has admitted to wrongdoing, apologized and repaid the money ($845.87). The charges were stayed. Waddington’s trial was to start August 11.
Waddington sent a written statement to FVN/chillTV:
I am certainly grateful that this matter has now come to a resolution. I have taken responsibility for submitting two expenses that were in fact ineligible for reimbursement. The first item was a $46 breakfast expense while attending the Renewable Cities Conference in Vancouver in 2017, the second was a three-day accommodation expense for $845.87 following the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference in Ottawa in 2017. I have now repaid the City in full. I want to sincerely apologize to the Citizens of Chilliwack, City Staff, and Mayor and Council members both past and present. I truly regret that my actions have served to compromise public trust in Government and potentially affirm the stereotype of what some see as politics-as-usual. These outcomes are the exact opposite of what I had originally set out to accomplish through my involvement in politics. While I am no longer facing charges, it’s important to me that I continue to try and make amends with my former colleagues and the broader Chilliwack community.This experience has motivated me to become a better community member. I am enrolled in a Master’s in Leadership program at Royal Roads University, which I started this spring. I have been spending more time organizing and advocating for Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley’s unbeatable outdoor recreation assets. I care deeply about the City of Chilliwack and want to contribute positively to our community.
What is “charges stayed”?
The decision by the Crown to stay or withdraw charges means they discontinue the prosecution. In both situations, once your charges are withdrawn or stayed by the Crown, you don’t have to go back to court. … Stayed charges can be “brought back to life” within one year of the day they are stayed.
“Alternative Measures” could be anything in the realm of paying back the money owed, community service etc.
Part of the expense controversy included money spent in Ottawa for a conference and then the November 2017 Grey Cup and accommodation also in Ottawa.
Mayor Ken Popove’s statement:
“Upholding public trust is an important part of being an elected official. As a municipal Council, we have a duty as stewards and trustees of the public trust and under statutes to see that criminal and municipal laws are upheld. I would like to thank the former Mayor and Council for being passionate about this and initiating the investigation into Mr. Waddington’s expense claims.
Mr. Waddington’s breach of our community’s trust is deeply disappointing, but we are glad that he has taken responsibility for his actions and apologized for abusing his position of authority. With his public apology to the citizens of Chilliwack, City staff and members of Council, and repayment to the City, we hope to leave this unfortunate time behind us.”
Waddington came under fire in the weeks leading into the 2018 Municipal Election over expense account reporting to City Staff.
The controversy eventually cost him his run for Mayor, which was eventually won by Ken Popove.
Prior to the start of the Tuesday September 3, 2019 afternoon council meeting, both FVN and chillTV were made aware, via BC Court records, that Waddington faced two counts of breach of trust by public officer. The first on May 29, 2017, the other on December 5, 2017.
In 2018, former Mayor Sharon Gaetz and former City Councilor Chuck Stam led the argument that Waddington may have broke rules, if not protocol. They had received information via FOI requests.
Stam had noted:
Why are Chilliwack taxpayers expected to pay for the wining and dining of other elected officials such as these? Andrea Reimer’s name shows up numerous times as having been Councilor Waddigton’s guest on Chilliwack’s expense.Another concern was an Airbnb charge of over $800 for a condo in Ottawa during Grey Cup Weekend.
From the Original City Staff Report:
The 2017 expense totals:
$7,583.85 – Mayor Sharon Gaetz
$5,190.48 – Coun. Sue Attrill
$7,145.76 – Coun. Chris Kloot
$4,819.48 – Coun. Jason Lum
$2,191.39 – Coun. Ken Popove
$2,592.23 – Coun. Chuck Stam
$17,240.48 – Coun. Sam Waddington
During the 2018 election debates, the topic of expenses was part of a heated exchange between Gaetz and Waddington. Pundits point to that on camera testy fight as the beginning of the end for both careers. Waddington and Gaetz both lost their chances at the Mayor’s chair.