Integrity report finds Innisfil mayor, councillors breached code of conduct during negotiations with developer

The report suggests further training for staff and members of council regarding town policies and code of conduct. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

An integrity report to the town of Innisfil council released Wednesday, found that three members of council, including the mayor, broke the code of conduct during negotiations with a development company earlier this year.

At a meeting on April 18, town council unanimously voted in favour of an investigation from the integrity commissioner into “leaks” of information between January and April 2018.

The investigation probed allegations of “improper sharing” of information from closed session meetings between council and town staff to a development company the town was in negotiations with.

According to Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper’s report, three members fell below the standards set out in the code of conduct in their communications with the developer about closed meeting matters.

“I found that Mayor Wauchope, Coun. Doug Lougheed and Coun. William Loughead breached the Code of Conduct for members of Council by discussing confidential information arising from closed sessions of Council with agents for the developer, contrary to section 14 of the Code of Conduct,” the report reads.

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According to the report, Leiper found Wauchope breached sections 14 and 26 of the code of conduct by taking phone calls from the developer while on vacation.

Additionally, the report found Wauchope failed to co-operate during the investigation.

“The mayor initially denied having telephone conversations with the developer during relevant times while the Mayor was out of Canada on vacation. After he was provided with the records revealing numerous calls between his home, cell number and U.S. vacation location and the developer; he admitted that the calls had taken place,” the report reads.

The investigation revealed Coun. William Loughead breached sections 13 and 14 of the code of conduct by involving himself in communications between town staff and the development company.

According to the report, Loughead had also applied to work at the development company twice, once in 2016, and again in 2017.

“I concluded that Councillor Loughead was motivated to assist the developer in conveying its position to the Town and to demonstrate his value to the developer. He attempted to influence the negotiations for a private advantage: that is, to have the developer look favourably on him as a future candidate for employment,” the report reads.

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The report found that Lougheed breached section 14 of the code of conduct by taking a phone call with an agent from the development company following a closed-session meeting.

According to the report, during the negotiations with town staff, the developer communicated directly with an elected member of council by calling, texting or messaging them while at home, travelling, on vacation, on weekends and outside regular business hours. The report found that some members of council properly refused to have these conversations or to reveal what was being discussed during closed sessions.

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As a result of the findings, Leiper’s report suggests council dock Wauchope and Loughead 30 to 60 days’ pay.

Similarly, the report suggests council dock Lougheed 10 to 30 days’ pay.

The report also includes findings and recommendations about gaps in town policy regarding lobbying activity and gifts to members of staff and elected members.

The report suggests further training for staff and members of council regarding town policies and code of conduct.

A statement released by the town of Innisfil on Wednesday afternoon said town staff would not be commenting on Leiper’s findings.

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“Due to the nature of the report, and the fact that the process for presentation of the report and any subsequent discussion by council is still to take place, Town Staff will not be doing interviews at this time.”

Leiper will present the findings to town council on Wednesday.

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