by LAURA KEIL
Valemount Mayor and Council have voted to rescind their conflict of interest policy.
According to a note on a report to Council by interim CAO Ken Weisner, the Village will now rely solely on the Community Charter when it comes to conflict of interest.
Counc. Sandy Salt was the sole Council member opposed.
“My position hasn’t changed on this,” she said.
None of the other councillors or mayor elaborated on their reasons for rescinding the policy, which was passed by the same Council by a narrow margin last spring.
Weisner wrote in a brief note in the report that “My experience is wherever possible, follow the Provincial statutes. The courts view them and the case law; these laws don’t require any need to get legal advice and as they are amended we don’t have to change.”
The rescinded policy outlined the stipulations in the Charter. It also outlined when the Village would pay for legal advice regarding potential conflict of interest. Last year, Counc. Peter Reimer sought reimbursement for legal advice he had sought independently to advise him on a potential conflict of interest. The Village’s legal counsel had suggested he was in conflict of interest; Reimer’s counsel disagreed. Council denied his request for repayment which was for over $1,600. At that time, Counc. Reimer pointed out there was no clear policy for who was to pay for legal advice sought by councillors.
Both Counc. Reimer and Mayor Townsend opposed the original policy last spring, with the other three councillors in support.
Developing a policy for conflict of interest was one of the recommendations from the Province’s Auditor General for Local Government after a performance audit of the District of Sechelt.
Last spring, Lori McNee, the Village’s Director of Finance, told the Goat that even though having a policy is not mandatory, the Village “will be a step ahead” when it comes time for their own audit. The policy spelled out in more detail what constitutes a conflict of interest as well as sought to protect Council from inadvertently placing themselves in a position of conflict in order to protect the reputation of the Village.