City reaches $112,500 settlement
by Phil Ambroziak
Money owed to a former employee who sought legal action against the City of Meadow Lake will cost taxpayers $112,500.
During an in-camera session of the regular meeting of city council held Jan. 13, local legislators approved a settlement agreement between the City of Meadow Lake and Gabriel Gagnier, the city’s former engineer who served a little more than seven months – from Nov. 1, 2010 until June 15, 2011. The terms of the settlement were released to the public last week.
“Discussions pertaining to the settlement were going on back in November and December, so there was a line included in the 2014 budget (which was approved Dec. 16) for legal fees,” explained city manager Diana Burton. “This (settlement) does not affect what we’ve already budgeted and planned for this year.”
According to the 2014 budget, $125,000 was set aside for legal fees, a decision Burton said was made as a just-in-case depending on the result of the settlement negotiations.
The recent press release issued by the city also states the end of Gagnier’s employment with the City of Meadow Lake occurred without fault by either party and all issues related to the end of his employment have been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both Gagnier and the city.
While Gagnier – who no longer resides in Meadow Lake – could not be reached for comment, news reports published in 2011 indicated his efforts to seek legal action against the city stemmed from what he considered wrongful termination. He alleged, at the time, former city manager Bruno Kossmann fired him because he was absent from work due to a serious health concern, but was unable to provide a medical note. The reports also state Gagnier allegedly failed to report an incident involving the lowering of the water main and force main in early June of that year. Gagnier, however, remained adamant the primary reason for his dismissal was his health issues.
Gagnier came to Meadow Lake following a stint as director of public works in Iqaluit, NU. He is originally from Chatham, ON and trained as an engineer at St. Lawrence College in Brockville, ON.