Saskatoon city councillors have withdrawn their support for Darren Hill to be considered for roles with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
Council made the decision during a special meeting Monday, after receiving a letter from FCM president Garth Frizzell. Though the letter hasn’t been made public, it includes “serious concerns with patterns of behaviour” exhibited by Hill, according to Coun. Mairin Loewen.
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The letter also referenced the impacts of Hill’s behaviour on FCM governance and staff, Loewen said.
FCM is a national organization that advocates on behalf of Canadian municipalities. Hill has been a member for 14 years, most recently holding the position of second vice-president. Without council’s backing, his tenure will come to an end.
Council voted 10-1 to withdraw the nomination provided to Hill in December 2020 for him to be considered for election to FCM’s national board of directors and to apply for appointment on FCM standing committees. Hill was the lone councillor to vote against the motion.
“Instead of being supported, I’ve been shunned by my colleagues,” Hill said during Monday’s meeting.
Hill said the concerns were in line with some of the mental health issues he has faced recently and for which he is receiving treatment.
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During Monday’s meeting, Hill stated Mayor Charlie Clark contacted Frizzell and asked for a letter about Hill, leading the FCM president to provide the written correspondence “without FCM executive’s knowledge or approval.”
Clark said he didn’t initiate contact with FCM and, rather, that Frizzell reached out to him. At that point, Clark said he requested a formal letter be provided for council’s consideration.
“I’m not going to get into all the details of all of the steps, but this was not something that I asked for,” Clark said.
“It’s something that came out of a request from FCM to talk to me.”
Clark said he continues to be “very concerned” about Hill’s mental health and can’t imagine the challenges he has faced recently. There have been multiple conversations about how Hill can be supported and accommodated, according to the mayor.
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Concerns for Hill’s mental health became public after he was 16 days late filing his campaign expense disclosure arising from the 2020 civic election. By filing late, he violated a city bylaw that could lead to his removal from city council.
Hill revealed that he had been dealing with lingering symptoms of COVID-19, including brain fog, confusion and fatigue. Combined with a head injury in late 2016, the councillor said his late filing was “an inadvertent and honest mistake.” He has also cited the end of his 19-year relationship and the death of his youngest son as contributing factors.
City council is waiting for a judge’s ruling on whether Hill can continue as a city councillor.
During Monday’s meeting, Loewen noted the nomination withdrawals were not related to the missed deadline, but rather, concerns raised by the FCM’s president.
Hill stated he has provided council with the most recent information from his medical team, indicating he is capable of fulfilling his roles and responsibilities.
Hill and Frizzell were not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
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