Thom Barker/Smithers Interior News/Mar. 7, 2019

The Town of Smithers pays out $96K to dismiss Anne Yanciw without cause

Smithers fires chief administrative officer

The Town of Smithers has been without a permanent chief administrative officer (CAO) for more than a month.

Mayor Taylor Bachrach confirmed Anne Yanciw was let go without cause on Jan. 21. He would not go into details saying only that he is unable to comment on human resources matters.

“Smithers Town council wishes Ms. Yanciw all the best in her future endeavors,” said a prepared statement on the firing.

Due to contractual obligations, the Town paid Yanciw $96,413 severance in lieu of notice according to a response to a Freedom of Information request filed by The Interior News.

That amounts to approximately $32,000 per year that she served in the role of CAO. During that time Yanciw was paid a salary of $132,000 annually.

The Interior News was not able to contact Yanciw for comment.

In the interim, council appointed Diana Plouffe, the Town’s director of corporate services, as acting CAO.

Plouffe said recruitment procedures to replace Yanciw began immediately following the former administrator’s departure and a posting for the position is imminent.

Plouffe said she is not interested in taking on the job permanently.

This is not the first time Yanciw has been let go without cause from a CAO position. In 2015, when she was the top bureaucrat in Valemount, the newly-elected Village council contracted an organizational review.

The June 2015 consultant’s report noted there was a strained relationship between Yanciw and the mayor that was having a negative impact on Village operations and public confidence. It found no fault with Yanciw’s performance, however, and no cause for her termination, but council went ahead in July and fired her anyway.

When Smithers decided to hire her in December 2015, Bachrach told The Interior News council was aware of the circumstances in Valemount and had no concerns.

“Anne comes very highly recommended, and obviously we check references as part of the selection process,” he said. “We were comfortable with our understanding of the situation. It’s not unheard of after an election for a new mayor and council to find that the fit with the previous CAO isn’t perfect.”

The current Smithers council was elected last October, with three new councillors at the table.