November 26, 2015 - 12:32 PM
WEST KELOWNA - A city councillor appears to have changed his tune in a conflict of interest allegation that caused delays to a development application.
Rusty Ensign, a rookie councillor at the City of West Kelowna, initially denied he was in any conflict of interest when he opted to hear and vote on matters related to West Bay Beach Resort. It was later discovered that one of his companies was doing business or attempted to do business with the resort.
The resort was expecting to get final approval of a planning change to allow the resort, but the conflict has sent it back to the beginning and it must once again go to public hearing.
At Tuesday evening’s council meeting, Ensign made a short statement before leaving.
“I have had legal advice and I would just like to state for the record that I had no prior conflict of interest and the original letter that precipitated this was based on inaccurate information,” he said. “To say I had a contract was over-stating the situation and having said that I am prepared in this case, out of respect for my colleagues and for the process, to recuse myself from any further deliberations and any more discussions on this matter.”
Mayor Doug Findlater said City correspondence with the developer showed a conflict of interest and said he wanted to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“There was an intervention between Coun. Ensign and the developer post-public hearing so there is an issue here where I think it’s absolutely correct to pull this back and clarify the process, make it fully transparent and move ahead from that,” he said Tuesday night.
“We need to make sure the public hearing process is open and transparent… When members of the public come to a public hearing… that they believe, that they respect, that they understand that the people sitting around this table don’t have any other interests that they may be looking at whether there may be a business opportunity for them. It’s critical that we have an open and transparent process.”
The proposed resort is a low-density residential and beachfront resort and includes a public waterfront trail.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015