Council agrees to cover legal fees with councillors calling suit frivolous

Herald file photo

The City of Prince Albert will be covering the remaining legal fees in a withdrawn lawsuit against Ward 7 Coun. Dawn Kilmer.

Council voted unanimously to cover the $3,271.54 in legal fees related to the case. Kilmer personally incurred the costs during a lawsuit brought forward by former councillor Evert Botha. Kilmer was absent from the room during the vote due to a conflict of interest.

Ward 4 Coun. Don Cody made the motion that council authorize the payment of $3,271.54 to cover the balance of legal costs incurred personally by Kilmer. Council cited a portion of the Cities Act on the protection of municipal officials as reason for the decision.

Cody called the legal proceedings were frivolous and shameful during the meeting.

“It is unacceptable for people in our community to do this kind of act when they know right well there was absolutely no way of winning this case, and yet we have to pay this kind of cost to protect ourselves and to protect our colleagues,” he said. “All of us need protection. We all need protection, and rightfully so. We should have no qualms about paying.”

Cody said that the lawsuit should not have gone to court in the first place.

“I think we should sue the guy, and if I were Kilmer I would sue for a lot more than that, I can tell you that,” Cody said during the meeting. “That’s a defamation of character, what he did to this woman. I think it’s wrong and it should be straightened out because it will continue on.

“I can tell you there’s going to be more of this going on all the time and we should be getting this stopped immediately,” he added. “It’s just simply silliness that we’re paying off this kind of money for a frivolous lawsuit one more time.”

Botha, a former City Councillor defeated in the last municipal election in 2020, commenced a legal action on Nov. 28, 2022 naming Coun. Dawn Kilmer and the City of Prince Albert as party Respondents.

His legal action asked the Court to consider declaring Coun. Kilmer disqualified as a City Councillor based on allegations that in the process of running and serving as a City Councillor she had not reported her involvement as a volunteer director of the Prince Albert Raiders Hockey Club. The City said Kilmer had resigned immediately upon having been elected in November 2020.

Ward 1 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp discussed a policy in place in Saskatoon that allows access to independent legal advice to a reasonable cap and that Prince Albert should look into a similar policy.

“We could implement such a policy that way it wouldn’t be a one off like this is,” she said. “It would be based on what the facts are or that this type of motion would be needed and then the councillor would determine if they needed the legal advice.”

Ward 6 Coun. Blake Edwards supported the motion. However, he said Kilmer deserved an apology in addition to having her legal fees covered.

“This is terrible that an individual or group of individuals, and some that stayed in the background, would bring this forward to try to demean her character,” Edwards said.

“I’ll publicly apologize to Councillor Kilmer purely for having to deal with this. This is something that none of us should have to (deal with) as Councillors or mayor. This was frivolous, this was to demean her character and, we know, to stop a project.”

Motion passed unanimously with Kilmer absent.

Mayor Greg Dionne echoed the same sentiment both in chambers and in an interview with media following the meeting.

“There was no grounds to it (the lawsuit) whatsoever,” he said. “I think what was disappointing to us is that it also cost the Raiders money, just not us. The Raiders had to hire a lawyer and to say that she was not on their board, she did not do this, do that.”

Dionne said that the whole process cost the City, Kilmer and the Raiders money.

“Our attorney presented all of the necessary documents to prove that it was not true. We asked them to stop the action. They chose not to, which shocked me, and then it never did end up getting to court because once it came out clear that they worked on making a settlement,” Dionne said.

Dionne also said Kilmer deserves an apology.

“It was very disappointing that this action even came to light,” he said.

Dionne explained that Holash made clear that they could not file a countersuit and this was the only form of redress available.

“We should go after him because these are taxpayers dollars and this person used to be a councillor and knows the rules and regulations and they knew she was innocent,” Dionne said. “So, no, I believe there should still be consequences, but unfortunately, today is not the day to get them.”

The Daily Herald reached out by email for a response from Botha but did not hear back before press time.