The issue of Lantzville councillors being in conflict of interest situation was once again raised during a council meeting on Monday.
It all stems from a council meeting on Oct. 12, when Coun. John Coulson put forth a motion asking staff to produce a report on what would happen in the event that councillors who had previously declared themselves in conflict on an issue, then voted on the same issue at a later date.
Coulson’s concern during the Oct. 12 meeting was that two councillors voted on a motion, which was defeated, relating to the proposed Foothills development when they previously declared themselves in conflict on the issue.
Council voted to debate Coulson’s motion next month, but since the Oct. 12 meeting, Coulson made reference on his website, www.lantzville411.ca, to councillors Dot Neary and Bob Colclough as the ones being in conflict.
On Monday, the defeated Foothills motion was revived by Mayor Colin Haime and the issue of councillors in conflict returned. Although Colclough was not in attendance Coun. Neary was and she addressed the issue.
“I have declared of a conflict of interest in the matter of the Phase 1 development application regarding the Foothills Development by Stone Mountain,” she said. “I did that in accordance with the community charter because it was a substantive issue that relates to the overall development plan for that development.”
According to District of Lantzville council minutes, Neary had previously declared herself in conflict with motions relating to the Foothills in January and February.
Neary told councillors her vote on the motion relating to the Foothills on Oct. 12 was done with the genuine and sincere belief that she was not in conflict, adding that the motion was merely calling for a report on information and the outcome would not have benefited her politically or financially.
“There is no potential benefit for me, pecuniary or otherwise. I have nothing to gain or lose,” she said.
She went on to acknowledge her responsibilities as a councillor, describing herself as a very honest person whose integrity has been trashed on social media.
“I have transgressed over my lifetime. I have been dishonest deliberately and by accident, but I am human,” she said. “Essentially though, I am a person who’s honest and has integrity.”
Haime said he revived the defeated Foothills motion from Oct. 12 to give both councillors the opportunity to speak on the conflict issue, adding that he was unaware that Colclough would be absent on Monday.
“I just wanted to make sure that everyone was procedurally covered, recognizing [Neary] had previously declared a conflict in relation to the Foothills … I wanted her to get the opportunity to express why she was not in conflict on the vote,” he said.
Coulson told the News Bulletin that he wasn’t satisfied with Neary’s explanation, adding that he is frustrated, wants to council raise their bar of ethics and follow the rules of the community charter.
Colclough was not present to speak about the claims, but Coun. Will Geselbracht said he believes Colclough is not in conflict and wondered why the Foothills motion was originally raised.
“I question Coun. Coulson’s motivation in requesting a lot of that information and … I think it relates to his perception that Coun. Colclough is in a conflict and I don’t see it that way,” he said.
Coulson’s conflict motion is scheduled for debate at Lantzville’s Nov. 14 council meeting.