Independent probe clears Cambridge councillors after allegations of secret meetings

File photo of Cambridge City Hall. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Members of Cambridge council have been cleared of wrongdoing by an independent investigation after being accused of holding a closed meeting prior to the selection of the Consumption and Treatment Services site last October.

The Oct. 12 decision came as a surprise to some as there had been public consultations on two other sites earlier in the year, but the chosen site at 150 Main St. was not part of them.

According to a report by independent investigator Meaghan Barrett, a lawyer with Aird & Berlis LLP, a complaint was filed on Dec. 15 alleging that “undisclosed serial conversations” had consituted a quorum prior to the meeting, thus suggesting that a council meeting was held in private.

It also alleged that members who would not vote in favour of putting the CTS site in downtown Cambridge were left out of the conversations about the eventual decision.

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Barrett interviewed the members of council alleged to be involved.

“We find that pre-meeting discussions between the members of Council that voted in favour of the motion to identify the Downtown Site as the preferred location for a CTS site did not constitute a “meeting” in that there was no quorum of members present nor did the discussions materially advance the business or decision-making of Council,” her report noted.

“Importantly, no formal consensus was sought or reached in respect of the Downtown Site during the course of those gatherings and discussions.”

The report also noted that the councillors made their decision based on site tours and staff reports and that no consensus was ever reached during the discussions.

It also noted that councillors were likely to hold conversations with like-minded members of council before putting forth motions.

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