Interpreting City Councilʼs Code of Conduct

At the June 22 Public Meeting to hear the Request for Reconsideration filed by Mel’s Convenience owner Dan MacIsaac, a resident asked whether Councillor Terry Bernard and Councillor Mike Duffy had violated the Council Code of Conduct bylaw.

The resident informed Council that Counc. Bernard had written a letter on City letterhead informing his wardʼs constituents about the St Peters Rd roundabout (a provincial matter), but failed to mention Melʼs rezoning application, a municipal matter and the subject of the Request for Reconsideration. In Counc. Duffyʼs case, he had expressed his voting intention on the Request for Reconsideration at an open Council meeting, which should have disqualified him from voting on the Reconsideration resolution.

Section 9. General Conduct
(b) Members of Council must be committed to performing their fucntions with integrity and to avoiding conflicts of interest and the improper use of the influence of their office
.

Cox & Palmer lawyer David Hooley, as legal counsel for the City of Charlottetown, was asked to provide a legal opinion. He deemed that both councillors were not in a conflict of interest. In other words, they had not contravened the Code of Conduct.

The information relating to both councillors can be found here (July 1 post, see hyperlinks in #5).


On Monday, July 12, Council met in a closed session at a Special Meeting of Council, where Councillor Mitchell Tweel was informed that he breached the Code of Conduct. The resolution, found on the last page of the July 12 Resolutions and Minutes file, does not specify the relevant section(s) of the Bylaw associated with the transgression, nor of any other City Bylaw.

According to The Guardian’s July 13 article, Tweel failed to attend 30 of the 32 Planning Board meetings held since last October, when the committees were restructured. Mayor Brown said when Tweel brought up concerns [in 2020] about his family business connections, senior administration asked its legal counsel, Karen Campbell, to look into the matter. She found no conflict of interest.

The way the article was written, the Mayor didn’t quite follow the order of the complaint and resolution process: “That’s when an independent third-party human resources investigator was brought in. The investigator’s report found Tweel to be in breach of the city’s code of conduct. […] Brown said the city then offered to bring in a mediator. Duffy declined, so the matter went back to council […]”

The Code of Conduct Bylaw states:
25.8. If the matter is not satisfactorily resolved after the Mayorʼs facilitation […], the Mayor, with the assistance of the CAO, may appoint a mediator to attempt to resolve the matter.
26.1. Failing resolution by the Mayorʼs facilitation or mediation, the Mayor […] will appoint an independent investigator…

The Code of Conduct Bylaw does not list a councillorʼs obligations to attend a set number of committee meetings. Nor was such a requirement found in the Cityʼs Procedural Bylaw.


On July 19, this billboard was seen on the corner of Towers and Mount Edward roads.

Councillor Greg Rivard was the Chair of the Planning & Heritage Committee from January 2019 to mid-October 2020.

In February 2020, CBC posted an article about a new development, quoting APM owner Tim Banks that it “goes before the city’s planning board on March 2.” Ultimately, what has become known as Sherwood Crossing was presented to the Planning Board on August 4. A public meeting was held on August 26.

The Planning Department presented its report, including feedback received from citizens, at the September 8 Planning Board meeting. Councillor Julie McCabe made motion for a deferral, because the traffic study commissioned by the City and involving the development had not been received. The vote was tied 4–4. The only time a Chair can vote is to break a tie. Councillor Rivard voted against the deferral.

A discussion then took place about the traffic study. Planning Manager Alex Forbes suggested that Council could request a deferral, thereby signalling his desire that the application be recommended to Council for approval. Councillor Rivard brushed Resident member Rosemary Herbertʼs concerns away too, stating that “if the information is not there [in the meeting package] to support the motion, then Council has every right to defer…” at the Monday meeting.

In January 2021, Greg Rivard joined RE/MAX Charlottetown as a licensed realtor. He recently became the listing agent for Tim Banksʼs Sherwood Crossing development [Note: IRAC appeal still ongoing].

Future of Charlottetown contacted Greg Rivard about the perceived conflict of interest and received this reply by e-mail: “I was contacted apprx 3 weeks ago by representatives of Killam/APM asking if I would be interested in listing the properties through myself and Remax. I contacted my own solicitor as well as the City solicitor and asked them to review prior to accepting the offer.  I was cleared with no conflict concerns.”


Four councillors, four different situations, three cleared by the Cityʼs legal counsel, and one penalized after an investigation that cost $6K determined he didn’t attend 30 committee meetings.


Recent goings-on at City Hall (Part 2)

Monday, 10 May: Regular Meeting of Council

Video recording available on the City’s YouTube channel

Resolution: 199 Grafton Street

51:27 Introduction of the 199 Grafton St. resolution involving seven — many major — variances and exemptions. 
55:46 Reading of variances and exemptions completed. Comment “Do you need some water after that?” (speaker unknown), followed by general LAUGHTER 
55:51 “Could you repeat that [list]?” (speaker unknown). Followed by MORE LAUGHTER 
55:58 “Councillor Duffy do you want to speak to this?” (speaker unknown) 
“What more can be said??” (speaker unknown). Followed by EVEN MORE LAUGHTER. 

Resolution passed, with no discussion. It took more time to read the lengthy list of variances and exemptions … 

Neither the scale of this proposal nor the consequences of the requested variances are in any way laughing matters. The behaviour demonstrated by this council shows a complete disrespect for their elected office and the residents who put them there. 

Local media reports

CBC headline: “84-unit Grafton Street apartment passes first reading” followed by “Council voted 9-0 to proceed with the APM project”.
Two persons were interviewed for this article: APM president Tim Banks; and Planning Board Chair Mike Duffy.

Only a passing reference was made to the public meeting held in April, “where some residents expressed concerns over the height of the building as well as how it would fit in the historic area.”

As for The Guardian, no report was found in either online version (Web page or Saltwire edition).

Citizen Satisfaction Survey

Earlier in the meeting, the results of the Citizen Satisfaction Survey were presented. 

[Video 13:07] Planning Services (rezoning) had the worst performance rating (51%). Reasons provided in the survey from dissatisfied respondents: 

  • “The city works far too closely with developers to approve inappropriate development. I think the city needs a better development strategy that is holistic, rather than ad hoc.” 
  • “It depends on who you are and what you want to do. There’s too much favouritism.” 
  • “Inability or unwillingness to enforce their bylaws. They’re not holding people accountable to follow the bylaws” 
  • “More community involvement would be preferred.”

Related posts:

  • 30 April: Historic 500 Lot Area building standards and guidelines
  • 29 April: Update: 199 Grafton – Public meeting (April 27, 2021)
  • 26 April: Public Meeting 27 April: New building at 199 Grafton Street
  • 21 March: Will the 15 Haviland flawed approval process be repeated at 199 Grafton?

With contributions from Andrea Battison.