Alberni politicos mull conflict of interest court ruling

Port Alberni’s civic governments are dealing with a BC Court of Appeal decision regarding civic officials’ conflict of interest guidelines.

Port Alberni’s civic governments are dealing with a BC Court of Appeal decision regarding civic officials’ conflict of interest guidelines.

On Jan. 13, appeal court overturned a ruling in the Schlenker v. Torgrimson Supreme Court case. The courts deemed that two elected officials on Salt Spring Island illegally cast votes to provide money to non-profit organizations in which they were directors.

Conflict of interest is now considered pecuniary, or involving money, the judgment noted. As long as the matter involves giving public funds and the respondents have an interest then it makes no difference that they didn’t directly benefit.

A February report from the Union of B.C. Municipalities noted that “…the court decision could mean that elected officials will no longer be able to participate in non-profit societies that receive money from local government,” the report showed. “…the elected officials could be disqualified from office if they vote on matters that would benefit the society financially, even if there is no personal financial benefit to them.

The development has been on the radar of Port Alberni city council through legal bulletins and notices, and council has taken steps to deal with it, city manager Ken Watson said.

Several councillors sit on various organizations. Mayor John Douglas: Port Alberni Twinning Society; Hira Chopra: Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce; Wendy Kerr: Community Stakeholders Initiative To End Homelessness.

But in advance of this issue, those appointments are now in liaison, non-voting capacities negating a conflict, Watson said.

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District is wrestling with the issue as well.

Regional district CAO Russell Dyson circulated a report about the matter to directors in advance of their March 13 meeting.

“Public officials, such as directors who are active in their community are likely to face many conflict of interest situations,” Dyson wrote. “It is important therefore that conflicts be recognized quickly and handled appropriately.”

Situations such as a re-zoning decision that impacts a director’s land value, or a decision that benefits a director’s family, associates or organization they belong to can constitute a conflict, Dyson wrote.

But the rule does not apply to interests that are held in common with the community, he noted.

ACRD officials are given a conflict of interest orientation, and directors review through the Union of BC Municipalities. But the ACRD’s policy with respect to directors’ appointments to other groups isn’t as cut and dried as the city, Dyson said.

“They’ve (city) taken the lead with liaison appointments only. We haven’t taken that approach,” he said.

“Ultimately, directors are responsible for taking action when there is a conflict.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

Just Posted

Thanksgiving Food Drive returns to Port Alberni

Volunteers will go door-to-door to collect non-perishable items

Tyee Club celebrates 80 years in Port Alberni

James Clark wins Fisherman of the Year award

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs rally for the win with five goals in third period

Port Alberni team has won two games in a row at home

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Takaya, B.C.’s intriguing lone wolf, seen eating seal and howling away on Discovery Island

Fun facts about Takaya the wolf, like his a 36-hour tour around Chatham, Discovery Islands

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

Most Read