I read with some conflicted interest and amusement in the Low Down two weeks ago how Chelsea Councillor Marcel Gauvreau claims that there was a “conflict of interest” in the letting of some human resources consulting contracts at the municipality (“’Potential conflict of interest’ over contracts: Gauvreau,” Sept 11 edition).
How’s this for a conflict of interest? – this very same councillor was told by the municipal solicitor last November in a letter to refrain from participating in any matters that involved the water and sewer project for Chelsea because he is a property owner on Old Chelsea Road and stands to financially benefit from this infrastructure project.
Conflict of interest – this councillor acted as a co-chairperson on the infrastructure committee examining the benefits and costs, and heard concerns of the community in this regard.
Conflict of interest – this councillor has also participated in debates and voted on by-laws involving the water and sewer project.
I and another Old Chelsea Village business person were incredulous and vehemently challenged and questioned at a council meeting we attended concerning how this councillor could participate in this issue.
Unfortunately, in this municipality, the mayor is the only politician allowed to address the public’s questions in the question period, so a standard, nondescript response by the mayor was given, which was that a letter had been issued by the solicitor advising the councillor to refrain from participating in this matter.
This councillor who participated on the infrastructure committee was previously content to allow the water project to terminate at the Nordic Spa, leaving the rest of Old Chelsea Village without potable water. Subsequently, I became involved in a citizen-led campaign for a reverse registry petition, which garnered over 50 per cent of the affected community votes required to access water from the proposed municipal system.
Conflict of interest – this councillor was totally prepared to let his constituents of Old Chelsea be deprived of potable water while his property was serviced.
Conflict of interest – the final straw came when I attended another council meeting and Councillor Gauvreau, instead of recusing himself from the discussion and vote as proper etiquette and law would demand, began to debate and question the mayor on a related issue.
So, there is my encounter with conflict of interest in Chelsea municipal politics. Now it’s before the court of public opinion.
You be the judge.