Con­flict of in­ter­est claim made against North­ern Arm mayor

Deputy mayor wants in­ves­ti­ga­tion to take place

The Central Voice - - Front Page - BY ADAM RAN­DELL

Michael Trim­blett says he is do­ing his mu­nic­i­pal duty in bring­ing for­ward a con­flict of in­ter­est com­plaint against North­ern Arm Mayor Lloyd Hunter.

It is al­leged Hunter took part in a dis­cus­sion and vote that favoured his wife — who is also the town clerk — dur­ing the June 18 meet­ing of coun­cil.

At the time, ac­cord­ing to Trim­blett – the town’s deputy mayor – em­ployee con­tracts were un­der re­view and the vote ex­tended the town clerk’s weekly hours and wages.

But progress to­wards hav­ing the case heard has been dif­fi­cult. Trim­blett has been try­ing for the past three months to have coun­cil ad­dress the al­le­ga­tions. He even sub­mit­ted a let­ter as a tax­payer in July, but says he’s been shut down by coun­cil.

“The let­ter that I sub­mit­ted to the mayor and coun­cil, re­quest­ing the con­flict of in­ter­est (in­ves­ti­ga­tion), did not ap­pear on the agenda for the Aug. 14 meet­ing or the Sept. 11 meet­ing,” he said.

When he re­quested to have it added dur­ing the Septem­ber meet­ing, Trim­blett said he was de­nied.

“The mayor re­fused to do it,” he claims. “Dis­cus­sion took place… and he de­clared there would be no in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a con­flict of in­ter­est on his be­half with the Town of North­ern Arm.”

The Cen­tral Voice was un­able to make di­rect con­tact with Hunter. Town hall staff, who for­warded the in­ter­view re­quest, later re­sponded with, “The mayor said, ‘No com­ment.’”

With no ac­knowl­edge­ment on the mu­nic­i­pal level, Trim­blett took his con­cerns a step fur­ther.

He sought ad­vice through the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs, who di­rected the mat­ter back to coun­cil.

An emailed state­ment from Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs con­firmed what Trim­blett had said.

“The Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and En­vi­ron­ment has been no­ti­fied of an al­le­ga­tion of con­flict of in­ter­est in the Town of North­ern Arm, and has ad­vised that it be re­ferred to the town,” read the state­ment. ‘The town coun­cil is re­spon­si­ble for ad­dress­ing al­le­ga­tions of con­flict of in­ter­est un­der the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act, 1999.”

Ac­cord­ing to the act, a coun­cil­lor isn’t per­mit­ted to vote or speak to a mat­ter where “a rel­a­tive of the coun­cil­lor has a mone­tary in­ter­est in the mat­ter.”

The act’s def­i­ni­tion of a rel­a­tive in­cludes a spouse or co­hab­it­ing part­ner.

And in sit­u­a­tions of con­flict, the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act in­di­cates a coun­cil­lor must de­clare a com­pro­mised po­si­tion, in which the mem­ber in ques­tion leaves the meet­ing for coun­cil to make a rul­ing on said con­flict. If con­flict is found, the coun­cil­lor is re­moved from all dis­cus­sions on the mat­ter and is not per­mit­ted to vote.

Fail­ure to do so can re­sult in a mem­ber of coun­cil be­ing forced to va­cate their seat and is pre­vented from run­ning in a mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion for two years.

Frus­trated over the fact that a mu­nic­i­pal­ity and its gov­ern­ing body are re­fus­ing to ad­dress the is­sue, Trim­blett said he will con­tinue to try and find a way to move the sub­ject for­ward.

“When I joined coun­cil last Septem­ber, I made an oath to up­hold the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act,” he said, “fail­ure on the part of any coun­cil­lor to do such, could re­sult in them be­ing held in the same po­si­tion as the per­son com­mit­ting the con­flict of in­ter­est.

“I am not pre­pared to sit back and let this slide by.”

FILE PHOTO

A con­flict of in­ter­est al­le­ga­tion has been brought for­ward against North­ern Arm Mayor Lloyd Hunter It is al­leged Hunter took part in a dis­cus­sion and vote that ben­e­fited his wife, who is also the town clerk in North­ern Arm

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