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TNRD considers vaccine mandate for staff, volunteers

Directors question whether they would also be included in the proposed mandate

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District is considering a proposed vaccine mandate for staff, volunteers and contractors, triggering debate about whether it should also include elected officials.

CAO Scott Hildebrand said the TNRD is speaking with other cities and regional districts before coming up with a final decision in the near future. The move follows the lead of the City of Kamloops, which requires the three groups to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 15.

“We’re basically following that lead and tailoring it to what our needs might be in the regional district,” Hildebrand told the board Thursday, Oct. 21.

Village of Ashcroft director Barbara Roden asked whether the vaccine mandate would be extended to area directors, prompting Electoral Area P director Mel Rothenburger to ask if there was “anybody who disagrees that we should all be vaxxed up?”

Cache Creek Mayor Santo Talarico was the only one who opposed the move, saying “I’m opposed to being vaccinated, 100 per cent. I don’t want to be vaccinated.”

This prompted Area J director Ronaye Elliott to ask whether Talarico should complete his term via Zoom, while Area E (Bonaparte Plateau) Director Sally Watson said the TNRD needed to discuss the Zoom option as a viable option for anybody who either cannot or will not get a vaccination.

Deanna Campbell, of the TNRD’s legislative services, said staff will look into the issue, noting “we can’t force a director to be vaccinated” but there may be requirements about them participating in person or events in the board room.

Kamloops Director Mike OReilly suggested the TNRD get some form of legal opinion as to what they can ask an elected official to do. He also added there should be caps on how many meetings directors can attend virtually.

Sun Peaks director Al Raine recommended the issue be deferred until staff can bring back a policy that might include directors. The deferral was supported by the board.

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