Port Moody council calls for mayor's leave of absence after sexual assault charges

Oct 9 2019, 1:32 pm

On Tuesday evening, the Port Moody city council carried a motion that would see Mayor Rob Vagramov return to a leave of absence.

Vagramov was charged with sexual assault last March, in connection with an alleged incident that happened in Coquitlam in 2015. He took a voluntary leave of absence for several months, before resuming his mayoral duties in early September.

It’s still undetermined, however, whether he’ll return to a leave of absence or not.

Tuesday’s meeting saw council and dozens of Port Moody residents discuss the motion, which was brought forward by Councillor Diana Dilworth.

Dilworth recommended that “until such time as the mayor’s legal issues have been resolved, that council formally requests the mayor go back on an unpaid leave of absence” and that in the case “that he is not totally exonerated, that council formally request the mayor’s resignation.”

Of the residents that spoke at the meeting, most stepped forward and implored the mayor to take a leave, although there were several that opposed the motion and asked Councillor Dilworth to withdraw it.

Council ultimately decided to move the motion to the beginning of the meeting after two hours of public input (it was originally scheduled as one of the last items).

Councillor Dilworth stated that she would not be withdrawing her motion and spoke of the concern of both the council’s behalf, as well as the residents of Port Moody.

“I truly believe that with your return and with your legal issue unresolved, we as a council are challenged with providing good governance and good process,” she said during the meeting. “I ask you to listen and hear what the residents of Port Moody are saying. Do the right thing — please return to your leave of absence until your legal issues are resolved.”

Before voting on the motion, city council also added a clause that the City of Port Moody write to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to “develop a process for local governments to follow if an elected official is accused of a criminal offence.”

Vagramov noted that “this is an issue that has come up before and will come up again until there is some kind of clear legislation.”

Ultimately, the motion to have Vagramov return to a leave of absence was carried, with four in favour and three opposed.

The council also unanimously voted to write to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. The motion to request Vagramov’s resignation was defeated.”

Despite Dilworth’s first motion being carried, however, Vagramov did not say confirm that he’d be returning to his leave.

“I will say that I thank the council for their input,” he said during the meeting. “I take all these comments, especially what we hear at public input to heart and consideration.”