There will be “conflict” conversation at Belleville council’s regular meeting Monday.
Council will see letters from its clerk and from its solicitors providing information on “conflict of interest” as it pertains to members of council, and the corporation itself.
Belleville solictors Templeman Menninga responded to questions posed by councillor Mitch Panciuk after it was revealed a resident had formally accused Mayor Taso Christopher of being in “conflict of interest” by voting on a matter last summer that involved some property he was an owner of.
In its response, Templeman Menninga states that a member of council must declare a conflict on any matter that involves pecuniary interest and not vote on it each and every time it comes before council.
The solicitors also state that if the issue is being dealt with in a “closed” session, the member must physically leave the room.
However, Templeman Menninga also urges caution as the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act is a complicated one and that “pecuniary interest” is not defined in the Act.
Also needing to be understood are “indirect pecuniary interest” and “exceptions”.
The law firm asks that council decide if it wants to see a very detailed report on the issues from it before it does the work to prepare one.
Responding to one of Panciuk’s questions, Templeman Menninga writes that it will not recommend itself as the firm to defend a member of council in a “conflict of interest” matter, as it is the municipal solicitor and represents council as a whole, not as individuals.
Other information being presented to council Monday will show that the city has “conflict of interest” insurance that will cover the city’s costs as well as those of all members of council and staff.
However, the policy would not cover any damages ordered after a hearing.
A hearing on the Mayor’s matter is scheduled in Superior Court, Kingston, June 30th.
Belleville council meets at 4:00 p.m. Monday afternoon at the Build Belleville office beside the Legion on Pinnacle Street.