Hamilton says confidential city manager interviews must happen at Niagara-on-the-Lake resort to protect applicants’ confidentiality

Council plans to take its city manager search on the road to a Niagara-on-the-Lake resort and conference centre Saturday to preserve confidentiality for job applicants, officials say.

Some critics are asking why the closed-door interviews couldn’t happen in a local hotel, or even whether Municipal Act rules technically allow for a city sub-committee meeting 70 kilometres away.

But others question why job interviews are scheduled that day at all.

Council has yet to debate a repeatedly delayed motion from new Coun. Maureen Wilson seeking to overhaul the mandate and membership of the council sub-committee overseeing the recruitment process, with an eye toward a greater focus on diversity and gender equity.

Citizens are slated to delegate to councillors on the idea tomorrow – and Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann has now added a notice of motion for Wednesday proposing to postpone the recruitment meetings.

The next planned meeting of the sub-committee is scheduled for Feb. 9 – this Saturday – at White Oaks Resort and Spa, which is also a large and popular conference centre in Niagara wine country.

City spokesperson Jacqueline Durlov said the venue was chosen to “respect the confidentiality of the job candidates. “

When asked why Niagara was chosen over closer municipalities or hotels elsewhere in Hamilton, she said the city’s headhunting consultant is “familiar with the venue” and confident the conference centre has “the necessary resources.”

Committee members are not expected to stay overnight at the resort for the meeting, Durlov said.

Responding to questions posed on Twitter from independent journalist Joey Coleman, Mayor Fred Eisenberger argued the far-flung confidentiality is needed “to protect applicants that have jobs elsewhere. We must not jeopardize (their) current positions.”

Official city meetings that discuss personnel matters are legally allowed to be conducted behind closed doors but are supposed to open and end in public.

Hamilton has been in the market for a new top bureaucrat since longtime city manager Chris Murray left to take the same job in Toronto last August.

Local politicians contracted a headhunter search for possible leaders for the city’s workforce of nearly 7,000 people, but also vowed to leave the ultimate decision up to the new council this year.

During the city’s last city manager search, 72 people from across the country applied for the gig.

mvandongen@thespec.com

905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec

mvandongen@thespec.com

905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec