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Integrity commission expected to probe West Lincoln mayor’s participation in St. Catharines protest

Don Mitchell / Global News

Niagara Region’s chair is set to file a complaint with the integrity commissioner in connection with the mayor of West Lincoln’s participation at a demonstration on April 10 in St. Catharines.

Council voted in favour of the filing after passing a motion brought forward by regional councillor George Darte on Thursday afternoon.

Read more: Niagara to ‘discuss’ concerns over West Lincoln mayor’s ties to St. Catharines anti-lockdown rally

“If we as a council saying nothing about a fellow councillor participating in the St. Catharines protest, then we are condoning his actions,” Darte said before the vote.

The probe is tied to an anti-COVID-19 lockdown protest on Lake Street in St. Catharines in which Dave Bylsma, West Lincoln mayor and Niagara regional councillor, received a summons to appear for allegedly failing to comply with orders under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA).

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Bylsma is facing a fine for taking part in a gathering that drew hundreds, according to Niagara Regional Police.

Police confirmed four people from the Niagara area are facing charges in connection with the protest, but did not disclose their identities.

Read more: West Lincoln mayor removed from emergency ops post amid investigation into COVID-19 protest

The mayor lost his seat on West Lincoln’s emergency operations centre after council removed him from the position last week.

“There’s a lot of concern that’s in the community, and I think this is the step, the right step that needs to be made,” St. Catharines mayor Walter Sendzik said before the unanimous vote.

Under the Municipal Act, a reprimand and suspension of financial remuneration for up to 90 days are penalties the integrity commissioner can apply should a member contravene the code of conduct.

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Global News has reached out to Bylsma for reaction to the summons and his removal from West Lincoln’s EOC team. The mayor has not responded to any queries.

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