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Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov returning to leave of absence: city councillor

Last Updated Oct 16, 2019 at 5:09 am PDT

FILE - Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov reads a statement during a news conference after being charged with sexual assault, at City Hall in Port Moody, B.C., on Thursday March 28, 2019.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vagramov announced he will be returning to a leave of absence at a meeting with councillors on Tuesday night,

Vagramov will return to the leave of absence in the next few days, according to City Councillor Diana Dilworth

Last week, council asked Vagramov to return to the leave of absence as he continues to face a charge of sexual assault

PORT MOODY (NEWS 1130) – NEWS 1130 has learned from Port Moody City Councillor Diana Dilworth Mayor Rob Vagramov will be returning to his leave of absence in a few days while a sexual assault charge remains against him.

Vagramov announced that decision at a Committee of the Whole Meeting Tuesday night, according to Councillor Diana Dilworth.

While she isn’t at the meeting herself, she’s been following along and has confirmed Vagramov’s decision.

“Mr. Vagramov sort of dropped the bomb that he had heard what his residents were saying and that he would be returning to a leave of absence in the next few days,” she says.

Last week, Port Moody council voted to ask Vagramov to return to his leave of absence, but at the time, he would only say he would take comments from the meeting, ‘to heart and under consideration’.

It’s a decision Dilworth is happy to hear.

“I’m really pleased to hear he’s heard and listened to the hundreds of residents who implored him to do the right thing and return to a leave of absence,” she says. “However, I’m disappointed he continues to blame the division and angst in our community right now on what he claims is a small group of politically focused and angry people who in his mind are bullying him. Instead, he should be showing remorse and taking responsibility for his actions and comments that have gotten us to where we are today.”

Last week dozens of residents filed in and out of council chambers, as they aired their concerns with Vagramov remaining as Mayor, while others sided with him.

Dilworth says following the weeks of controversy, she’s ready for the issue to be resolved and for order to be restored at City Hall.

“I just have to say I’m really happy for our community. Through their emails, protests, and public statements, Mayor Vagramov was trying to dismiss this as a political attack,” Dilworth says. “That was tone-deaf, but I’m pleased he might actually be understanding what doing the right thing means to his constituents.”

In an emailed statement to NEWS 1130, Vagramov confirmed his plans to step aside in the near future.

“There is no legal requirement for me to be away from my elected role, but today I am exercising my discretion to go back on leave without pay until I am cleared of the charges held against me,” he writes. “I know that this won’t satisfy everyone.”

Vagramov also had some harsh words for his political rivals.

“From what I can tell, some people out there won’t be happy until they see my head on a stake, but for the vast majority of reasonable folks out there: After taking time to filter out the partisan noise, I hear your input, I value it, and it does play greatly into my decision making here at City Hall,” Vagramov says. “To folks who have been so supportive over the past few months, I ask for some patience during this time.”

Councillor Steve Milani Milani will be serving as acting mayor while Vagramov returns to his leave for the next three to four weeks.