West Kelowna councillor doesn't take conflict censure lying down

Coun. Rusty Ensign in a screen shot from a West Kelowna council meeting.
Image Credit: City of West Kelowna

WEST KELOWNA - Councillor Rusty Ensign, censured and fined by his own peers, says he deserves his punishment but remains unapologetic for trying to defend his name.

“I’m a first time councillor and I need to stand up for myself,” Ensign says, of the conflict of interest created when he voted on a development proposal with which his company Ensign Bros. had some involvement.

When council learned Ensign’s company had bid on a demolition contract for West Bay Vineyards, it rescinded previous approvals for the development and the results of a public hearing, while investigating the matter.

Ensign pushed back against the mayor’s report and its findings, disputing details and wording, although Findlater would not budge on his final draft.

“Some things were internally inconsistent, and I asked him to change those things. It put me in a position where I had to stand up for what I thought was right."

On Monday, his West Kelowna council mates voted unanimously to censure Ensign, make him write a letter of apology and fine him half the legal fees incurred by the city dealing with the matter.

Mayor Doug Findlater, citing the quasi-judicial nature of the decision, declined comment, pointing instead to the public record of the special meeting.

Ensign says the devil is in the details and he still thinks there’s plenty of confusion about how it all played out although he’s careful not to push back too hard.

“I did something procedurally where the optics weren’t right. But you mess up, you man up. It was unanimous and I will pay the penalty,” Ensign says. “I’m not going to bicker and I don’t want to be a jerk. It’s not good for the electorate if I can’t work with the rest of council.”

Ensign is the second local politician to be censured by their colleagues in recent months. Central Okanagan Regional District director Patty Hanson was censured and pushed off several committees in December for disclosing confidential information and misrepresenting the board to Okanagan Film Commissioner Jon Summerland.

For more City of West Kelowna stories, click here.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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