Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said he is going to apologize to Calgarians after he was sanctioned for not disclosing his financial interest in an Inglewood property for six years.
Calgary’s integrity commissioner, Ellen-Anne O’Donnell, investigated a complaint from 2021 and found that Carra failed to include the property on his disclosure form, which all city councillors are required to do.
“I screwed up,” Carra told Global News. “It was a paperwork ‘snafu.’ I don’t interface with that piece of paper enough.”
According to the integrity commissioner’s report, Carra and his wife made a $300,000 down payment on the home back in 2015, but “there was no written agreement or document of any kind” setting out the terms of the transaction.
The integrity commissioner found the payment had “crystallized a financial interest in the Inglewood property, or at the very least, a financial holding related to the Inglewood property.”
O’Donnell found Carra had five separate opportunities to disclose the property between 2016 and 2021.
The Ward 9 councillor said the original plan was to tear down the duplex on the property and build two homes, one in which the Carras would live, but the deal began to fall through.
He said he and his wife invested another $36,000 toward the remaining share of the property to “salvage their investment.”
Carra updated his financial disclosure form to include the Inglewood property following the 2021 municipal election.
The investigation found Carra had publicly disclosed his interest in an Inglewood property to city council and recused himself from voting on a notice of motion related to lifting a restriction in the community.
He said he felt he was being “open and honest about everything” throughout the process and that “everyone knew” his plans for the property.
According to Carra, the development permit process was handled by then-mayor Naheed Nenshi’s office, and not by the Ward 9 office.
There was also a lengthy legal battle regarding the development permit approval for the property which was heard and upheld by the Alberta’s Land and Property Rights Tribunal. An appeal at provincial court was also rejected earlier this year.
“When you’re fighting with your neighbours and they’re spending thousands and thousands of dollars to block you both politically and financially for things at the end of the day that are totally copasetic, it’s emotionally draining,” Carra said. “That’s not an excuse, I should’ve written on the paper.”
As part of the sanctions against him, Carra must write a letter of apology to Calgarians for failing to comply with the disclosure policy and must attend training with the ethics advisor within 30 days — sanctions he said he accepts.
Last week, Ward 2 Coun. Jennifer Wyness expressed that she wanted the integrity commissioner’s investigation forwarded to the province and the Calgary Police Service, a discussion that is expected at the July 20 meeting of the Executive Committee.
Carra said he had no comment on his council colleague’s intentions.
But the Ward 9 representative maintains there was no wrongdoing and he feels the matter is settled.
“Any allegation that this was not being done very clearly in the public eye, that it wasn’t discussed at council, that I wasn’t officially recusing myself, that there wasn’t official documentation is false,” Carra told Global News. “I just didn’t write it on that piece of paper, and I’m sorry for that.”
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According to Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, the situation raised “alarm bells” because of the working relationship between municipal politicians and developers, and that the disclosure forms are important to avoid any apparent conflict of interest.
“The biggest potential for scandal in municipal politics is handshake deals involving property, zoning, bylaws, councillors, developers, and right away he’s stuck right in the middle of this,” Bratt said. “This isn’t like someone who’s just been elected and was unsure of the disclosure rules. This is someone who has been in council for over a decade.”
Carra said he plans to deliver his apology during the July 26 city council meeting.