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Former top bureaucrat in Lions Bay sues for $85,000 after being fired

Peter DeJong claims the Village of Lions Bay owes him over $85,000 after failing to meet the severance terms of his contract upon termination.
Lions Bay Mayor Ken Berry, left, is wearing many hats these days, following substantial turnover in the municipality's administration after the October 2022 election.

The former chief administrative officer (CAO) of the Village of Lions Bay is suing the municipality for over $85,000, plus damages, for allegedly failing to comply with his contract's terms for severance.

Peter DeJong was fired last December shortly after newly elected Mayor Ken Berry gained oversight of the village’s operations.

According to DeJong’s claim in B.C. Supreme Court, the village gave DeJong one week of working notice and a lump sum payment of $133,859 upon departure.

But DeJong claims he is entitled to $219,114, after amendments were made to his contract in 2018 and 2021 to afford him more notice and severance than originally agreed to in 2016, when he took on the role.

An online mayor’s update after the termination claimed the village terminated DeJong in accordance with his original contract.

“As a result of the Defendant’s breach of the Duty of Good Faith, the Plaintiff has suffered further damages and loss, including without limitation, mental distress and loss of the security and certainty intended by the inclusion of a defined termination provision in the contract of employment,” the claim states.

DeJong’s termination was one of many post-election departures last fall and winter. The village also saw the resignation of councillor Norman Barmeier, after just four weeks in office, and the resignations of the chief financial officer, public works manager and chief building inspector. The village was also without a fire chief until this spring.

Berry is presently the acting CEO, in lieu of the CAO vacancy; he is now on the hunt for a fourth CAO.

That’s because after DeJong was fired, the village hired Anthony Tobin as acting CAO. But Tobin resigned in February, with Berry claiming he had been treated unfairly.

“We should all be ashamed for the part we played in his treatment and resulting departure,” wrote Berry in his mayor’s update.

Acting CFO Ron Miller took on Tobin’s role and the village was able to produce its budget of $6.2 million in revenue, of which $1.8 million is drawn from taxation.

But Miller has since resigned, as well, with Berry stating Miller was there only for a short term as he came out of retirement to assist the village.

The village brought in a municipal advisor in May to assist with the village’s administration, according to a mayor’s update online.

Glacier Media reached out to Berry, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

The village has not filed a response to the claim, which was filed June 9.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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