THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
Pages of Special Interest;
Other Table of Contents;
Scanned, recopied or Internet copy, if there are errors, please e-mail me with corrections:
Opening comments: More at the end.
Oddly I don't see the Mayor's name being used.
Judicial Inquiry FactsWe have received many emails in support of our position in opposing the spending of over $2 million tax dollars for a judicial inquiry. We want to further clarify why we took this position and why we truly believe this action is a waste of taxpayers' money and serves no useful purpose. It has in fact been called nothing more than a witch hunt.
Council already received an independent legal opinion at a cost of just under $47,000 on the matters involved. There is no valid need to spend millions of dollars more to get answers that we already have and on an inquiry that is fact finding only and will not result in any action. Also, the inquiry requested by 7 Members of Council to initially review a conflict of interest by the Mayor over a land deal in the city centre has grown to include other transactions that are not related to the land in question and may well exceed the estimated costs.
The land in question was purchased this year by the City for the construction of Sheridan College. It had previously been under an agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) to another company but that agreement was ended by the seller before the City became involved. Any actions of the purchaser/seller related to that agreement have no relevance in the purchase by the City of the land. To further protect the city from any liability however, we included an indemnification agreement in our offer to buy the land. This issue was reviewed by an external legal firm and Council made aware of the conclusions. Also allegations that the price was inflated as a result of legal agreements between the outside parties are unfounded. Council received multiple appraisals on the land and it is very clear that we paid a fair market value for it.
The company who had the APS had proposed to build a first class hotel on lands owned by Oxford Properties (Square One). The Mayor and Council were very open on our support for this type of development and, in her capacity as head of Council, the Mayor accompanied by City staff, met with the proponents to tour a proposed type of hotel. The Mayor openly declared a conflict of interest in the matter when it was on a Council agenda as her son was involved in the real estate of the land and Council was well aware of this. She did neglect to do so at one meeting at which there was no decision made on the application. An error on the part of the committee coordinator, a well respected long time employee, showed a conflict was declared and those minutes distributed to and approved by Council. In a recent report to Council this was clarified and explained as an error yet the motion for an inquiry still alludes to this as an "altering of the minutes". No minutes were "altered". Council saw minutes that had an error and approved them. An inquiry will not provide any more information on this than we already have.
The legal review made it clear that the Mayor had a conflict of interest in the application and had to declare a conflict when it was on Council agendas. It also concluded she had neglected to declare it at one meeting having done so at prior meetings. While this was a contravention of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, it stated that it may have been committed through inadvertence or an error in judgement. The report also concluded that any external meetings that may have been held were not a conflict of interest under the act.
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