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Vancouver's deputy chief building officer forced to resign after renovating her home without permits

Courtesy of the Province Newspaper

 

Vancouver City Manager Penny Ballem said management is devastated after the city’s deputy chief building official — a trusted leader and rising star — was forced to resign for completing renovations on her home without permits.

On Thursday Ballem said in late November a whistleblower informed senior staff that Carli Edwards — a 17-year-employee seen as someone who eagerly tackled tough jobs for senior management — had breached city bylaws.

Staff investigated the complaint and found allegations were true, Ballem said. Edwards — whose husband Scott Edwards is also an engineer in city hall — co-operated with the process, and agreed to resign.

“Unfortunately, when you are the deputy chief building official and you do work without a permit in your own house, there are consequences,” Ballem said Thursday.

Ballem said she could not reveal who the whistleblower was, and she also could not talk about the nature of the renovations.

“This was not a huge rebuild,” Ballem said. According to property records, the East Vancouver residence involved is in the Fraser Steet and East 33rd Ave. area, and the property had $68,600 in land improvement in 2014, and $68,600 in land improvements in 2013.

City managers found that Edwards, who is held to a higher standard because of her position, seriously breached her “fiduciary” duty under the city’s Code of Conduct.

The city consulted legal experts to ensure that terms in Edwards resignation will ensure she will not sue the city, Ballem said.

City hall insiders say the process must have been difficult, especially as Edwards was seen as having a close working relationship with Ballem, and undertook some transformations that may not have been popular with Edwards’ subordinates.

Ballem confirmed that Edwards, prior to her unpermitted renovation, was seen as a hard worker and change agent at city hall, with an “unblemished record.”

“I tried to mentor her and support her on some pretty difficult files,” Ballem said. “It is pretty devastating to all of us. But she understands there was only one landing place here.”

Ballem said that Edwards received $65,000 — six months of pay — in her resignation terms.

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