An Innisfil Councillor promptly resigned despite fellow Councillors refusing to accept a report naming him among Code of Conduct violators.
Councillor Doug Lougheed made his resignation known just after six others around the council table voted to dock the pay of Mayor Gord Wauchope and Bill Loughead for 45 days. The two were handed the punitive measure after recommendation from an Integrity Commissioner, who claimed all three violated the town’s Code of Conduct.
In a dramatic recorded vote among the six remaining Councillors, three shot down a motion claiming Lougheed was involved in the exchanging of information with a developer not named in the report. Lougheed followed the vote with a prepared statement detailing his reasons for resigning from his Ward 1 seat:
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”I can no longer serve on a council where one or more members cannot accept my absolute denial that I was the source of a confidential information leak.”[/perfectpullquote]
His resignation also included allegations some members of council were being coached by town staff during meetings, allowing their votes to be tainted. He also said senior staff were delegated too much authority, and kept Councillors in the dark about important issues:
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”As elected representatives, it is our responsibility to be the voice of the people, and provide insight into staff recommendations.”[/perfectpullquote]
Councillor Richard Simpson refuted any allegations against town staff throughout the proceedings, while the Commissioner’s report also made note of staff assistance during the investigation.
Related: Mayor And Councillor In League With Developer, According to Integrity Report and Council Vote
Council voted to accept both Mayor Wauchope and Councillor Loughead violated Code of Conduct rules when communicating with a developer about ongoing application negotiations, and the pair will not be paid their municipal salary for 45 days as a result. Simpson, the only among the six voting members not vying for a seat in November, hopes history doesn’t repeat itself:
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”To do this… eight years! Eight years I’ve been on council, this is one of the worst moments right now for me, I gotta tell ya. And again, for those, who will be up here, I hope you never have to go through this again.”[/perfectpullquote]
Commissioner Janet Leiper submitted a report last week, detailing not only her investigation into allegations information was being leaked to a developer, but also punitive measures for those found responsible. Her report outlined how she believed Wauchope and Loughead were in communication with developers behind a “significant project” based on phone records and inconsistent statements. Councillor Rob Nicol was satisfied with the report’s recommended punishment:
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Based on the facts of the report from a very highly respected Integrity Commissioner, I am comfortable in asking for something in the middle of the recommendation which sends a clear message that Innisfil does take our Code of Conduct seriously, and we need to protect the integrity of the role of council, and to work to not fall below that code set.”[/perfectpullquote]
Allegations against Lougheed were based on an 18-minute phone conversation with those developers, a conversation he initially remembered and reported to the Commissioner as “less than two minutes.” He accepted the conversation may have been a long one, but about an unrelated issue involving a fire hall affecting a proposed development and not the leaking of inside information as the Commissioner suggests.
The Commissioner’s report also recommended ways of filling gaps in the town’s Code of Conduct, to not only prevent similar issues as this, but also protect town staff, council, and any developers involved in future projects. The six voting members of council enthusiastically endorsed a motion to have staff work with the Town’s Commissioner in putting better policies in place in the near future.