The following Letter to the Editor regarding the decision by Justice T. M. Wood on the conflict of interest charges filed against TML Councillor Sandy currie, was published in the Bracebridge Examiner and the Gravenhurst Banner on November 5, 2015.
MLA welcomes ruling that clears councilor Sandy Currie of conflict-of-interest charges
The Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA) welcomes the ruling by Justice T.M. Wood exonerating Township of Muskoka Lakes councillor Sandy Currie, who is also an MLA director, on charges of conflict of interest filed earlier this year by Torrance resident Greg Knight.
This decision reinforces that local politicians can sit on association boards like the MLA without necessarily violating municipal conflict of interest rules.
Mr. Knight, a local developer and unsuccessful candidate in the 2014 municipal election, had filed an application in May to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice charging Mr. Currie had failed to disclose an alleged “conflict of interest” when Township Council discussed changes in its comprehensive zoning bylaw, an issue in which the MLA took a continuing interest. Mr. Knight, a lawyer, claimed that Mr. Currie’s actions were “flagrant and deliberate,” and that they should result in Mr. Currie forfeiting his seat on council and being “disqualified” from serving on council for seven years.
In his statement of defence, Mr. Currie claimed that no conflict existed, as neither he nor the MLA had what the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act calls a “pecuniary interest” in the issues cited by Mr. Knight.
A hearing on this allegation, lasting less than an hour, took place in Bracebridge on Oct. 19, 2015. On Oct. 23, 2015 Justice Wood released a four-page decision clearing Mr. Currie.
Although the MLA had appealed the zoning bylaw to the Ontario Municipal Board as part of its continuing effort to achieve longer setbacks for waterfront residential sewage systems, Justice Wood said that the OMB’s $125 filing fee did not constitute a “pecuniary interest” in the matter.
Justice Wood clarified that neither the MLA nor its members “stand to gain or lose financially from the final configuration of the waterfront lot sewage-system setbacks.”
Michael Hart, President
Muskoka Lakes Association