Barrie Councillor Keenan Aylwin has come out from an Integrity Commissioner’s investigation unscathed after allegations he could have seen benefit from some downtown decisions.
In May of last year, a complaint was filed through the proper channels, alleging Aylwin failed to declare a conflict of interest when voting on several matters affecting the city’s downtown core; as Aylwin’s father owns a restaurant in the city’s downtown and Aylwin himself once sat on the Barrie Business Improvement Association (BIA) board, the complainant felt Aylwin had no right to vote on select issues discussed at City Hall meetings. The matters involved altering the city’s smoking bylaw with a focus on the core, along with financial contributions to the Dunlop Streetscape Project involving the BIA.
This complaint kicked off an investigation by the city’s Integrity Commissioner, with the findings presented to council on Monday evening.
While the restaurant owned by Aylwin’s father does fall within the Dunlop Streetscape Project scope, and the establishment would be affected by a change in the city’s smoking bylaw, Barrie Integrity Commissioner Suzanne Craig ruled that the interest here was “in common generally with other electors,” in that it affects a broad category of businesses and individuals in the downtown, not just the one restaurant.
Craig points out that Aylwin even sought her advice prior to discussing some downtown matters. “It is clear from the information that I have received throughout this investigation that the Respondent (Aylwin) acted with diligence in seeking the advice of the Integrity Commissioner in circumstances in which a real or perceived conflict may arise.” reads the report presented to council on Monday evening.
Councillor Aylwin says he has been open about his connection to the downtown from day one. “I did my due diligence as soon as I got elected,” Aylwin told Barrie 360. “The next day, basically, I reached out to her to figure out what I had to do to act within the rules and act ethically as a councillor.”
“That’s why we have an Integrity Commissioner,” added Aylwin. “She’s there for councillors to ask questions about the rules and about each issue that comes before us, and I will be doing that just as I have from the beginning.”
The vote to accept the Integrity Commissioner’s report was unanimous.