OSOYOOS – An Osoyoos man thinks he knows why the mayor of Osoyoos has withdrawn his candidacy in the municipal election campaign and he wants to make sure the people of the community are aware.
In an email sent to local media outlets, Oliver Betz outlines a trespassing and theft case involving Mayor Stu Wells and his wife Dr. Martha Collins, and the belief it was the reason for Wells’ sudden departure from the political campaign.
Betz says he has security video showing Wells and Collins trespassing on his Anarchist Mountain property and stealing buyer beware signs on his driveway in June 2013.
The signs and a message on Betz’s driveway stem from a dispute he had with the developer. He claims back in 2011, the company allegedly promised power and phone hook-ups as part of the purchasing price at the development, but didn’t follow through.
“I eventually put the power in myself at an additional cost of $30,000,” Betz says. “I painted a ‘heads-up’ note on my driveway… to ensure future buyers did their homework before buying.”
Things changed when Okanagan Mountain Estates opened a show home for its development just up the road from Betz’s property.
Worried the driveway vandalism was related, he repainted the message, put up buyer beware signs and installed security cameras in an effort to catch the culprits.
He didn’t expected to catch the mayor and his wife.
There was a six-month RCMP investigation, but in the end, the pair were given probation through the diversion process and no charges were laid, Betz says.
Wells has admitted he and his wife did take down the signs in a letter of apology to Betz.
“The removal of your protest sign from your fence post was an act of immense stupidity on my behalf,” Wells said in the letter. A cheque for $180 for damages to the signs was sent as well.
“Whether Mr. Wells’ withdrawal from the current mayoral race represents a ‘hiatus’ from politics as he stated, or is a permanent retirement from politics, I think the matter of why the mayor trespassed onto my property and stole legal signs (which were meant to protect his constituents) continues to be a matter of public interest,” Betz says.
“I believe that the citizens of Osoyoos and the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen are entitled to know what motivated the theft of the signs.”
Wells had planned to hold a media conference at the Osoyoos Legion on Friday to explain his side of the story. He has since sent an email saying, "I have nothing further to say that isn’t contained in the letter of apology." He attached a copy of the letter of apology and it can be read below.
March 2, 2014
Ms. Marg Coulson & Mr. Oliver Betz
I wish to offer my sincere and profound apology for my actions on the evening of June 24, 2013. The removal of your protest sign from your fence post was an act of immense stupidity on my behalf. The physical act was obvious but more significant was the infringement on your rights and freedoms under Canadian accepted values.
My actions were committed without any thought as to what you have been through in dealing with the physical deficiencies in your property purchase. To have purchased your dream property and not be able to build on the lot is both unfathomable by me and unconscionable by the developer. This was exacerbated by my callous disregard for your rights and freedoms. I understand that there has also been an element of harassment by the developers and the sales force. My actions on that evening certainly added to your stress and anguish.
I have reviewed the whole incident and have certainly had to re-visit my attitude and inner psyche as to my core values. I am working at making sure that empathy is one of my primary emotions. I am very embarrassed by my out of character actions that took place that evening. My more usual role is one of enabling not demoralizing. I am so in tune with helping people solve problems.
I have a tremendous amount of remorse for this unacceptable and embarrassing act. I sincerely ask for your forgiveness and ask you to accept my apology.
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— This story was updated at 1:10 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24, 2014 to include Mayor Stu Wells' cancellation of his media conference and to include his letter of apology.