10/31/2017 13:54 EDT | Updated 11/02/2017 14:03 EDT

Convicted councillor in Pitt Meadows, B.C., to step down in new year

PITT MEADOWS, B.C. — A city councillor from Pitt Meadows, B.C., who has been convicted of sexual assault will resign his position at the start of the new year and stop any further participation in civic activities, the city said Tuesday in a news release.

David Murray was convicted last week of one count of sexual assault involving a young person, the British Columbia Prosecution Service has said. He is scheduled to return to court in January to set a date for sentencing.

Murray did not immediately resign his council seat following the conviction for an assault that took place 25 years ago.

Mayor John Becker says in a news release Murray's resignation on Jan. 2, 2018, is in the best interests of all parties and avoids a legislated requirement to hold a byelection.

The statement says the delay allows the city to consider the merits, costs and resources needed for a byelection. Municipal elections are scheduled for October 2018.

Murray will remain on an unpaid leave of absence until his resignation and Becker says his thoughts are with the victim.

"I hope now that David Murray is no longer a sitting member of council offers some comfort to the victim, her family and the community."

The mayor also says he regrets the city was not more proactive in its communications with the public.

This is the first time the city has had to address a criminal conviction of an elected official, Becker says.

"There is no legislative authority to act unilaterally and remove the official. There are no policies and procedures and we will be addressing this deficiency," he says.

The release says council will advocate for change in the community charter to allow for the suspension or termination of an elected official if he or she is convicted of a criminal offence.