Despite passing a budget and approving funding for a temporary homeless shelter, the drama at Regina’s city council has continued to take the spotlight.
It was back in late November that Councilor Dan LeBlanc filed a lawsuit representing Councillor Andrew Stevens, and a community member brought a lawsuit against City Manager Nikki Anderson in an attempt to compel her office to include a line item describing the cost of ending homelessness in the 2023 city budget.
Since then, there has been a back and forth of words with allegations of sexism, harassment, and intimidation all linked to the lawsuit.
With the lawsuit that sparked it all approaching two months since it was filed, a former councillor is weighing in.
Mike O’Donnell, who was a councillor in Ward 8 for 14 years, said that drama like this hasn’t been common in the Queen City.
“It was not during my time,” he said. “I don’t recall it leading up to or when I ran for council seeing those kinds of divisions at all.”
He said that disagreements between councillors, the Mayor, and the City Manager are normal; however, this time, it has gotten personal.
“When there is a disagreement, and it becomes personal, I think that is what really causes difficult in trying to solve something,” he said. “You should have a great debate, you should disagree, and then you should end it and carry on because there are other issues that you have to work collaboratively on. It’s the personal side that I don’t like.”
When asked if the longtime councillor had some advice, O’Donnell said all parties should do their best to make peace with each other.
“They have an obligation to serve the people that voted for them. I think the best advice I could give is to look each other in the eye, talk things through and put things down and into the past. You have not only an obligation to represent the people, but you have an obligation to make sure that our city is looked after.”
With a clear division in council, it hasn’t stopped them from working together to pass items like a ‘historic’ Indigenous Purecument policy. Despite that, Regina residents feel as if they have a dysfunctional council.
O’Donnell said that it’s up to all of council to show they can work together and restore any lost faith of the public.
“Council and individual members of council have two years to restore faith. They have two years to get things done and two years to solve relationships, so that’s a long time,” he said. “I certainly would hope that people in the community would voice their opinion to their own councillor just like they did in the past to make sure they understand how they feel.”
“Lots of time to heal, I think it will be difficult, but lots of time to heal,” he added.
O’Donnell added that the hopes everyone can put the drama behind them.
“I think in the end, I would hope that we good to get back to being a very respectful community and have people who are leading our community, i.e. council, act and behave in a respectful manner and set the tone,” he said. “I want to give them some credit; you’ve come to some conclusions now, carry on and lead our community positively, please.”