Mayor Walt Cobb said he’s getting out in front of a conflict of interest accusation by going public after a resident alleged the Royal Canadian Legion received financial aid from the city because the mayor is a board director.
“It is ridiculous in a community of this size to suspect that anybody on council is not involved with non-profit societies,” Cobb said after contacting the Tribune Monday to clear the air.
Cobb said in February the city received a letter from a resident complaining he had a conflict of interest because he serves as a director on the Royal Canadian Legion board and the legion received a tax exemption and a $7,500 grant-in-aid from the city.
Staff sought legal advice and was told because Cobb didn’t benefit in anyway financially because of the tax exemption or grant in aid, it wasn’t a conflict.
“Even if there was a direct financial interest, which is unsubstantial, the city believes that a section of the community charter would apply — that the pecuniary interest is so remote or insignificant that it cannot reasonably be regarded as likely to influence the member in relation to the matter,” Cobb said, reading from the community charter.
Council met and decided because of the legal advice they would not to take any action on the complaint and responded to the complainant.
“He has now decided the answer was not good enough and has responded again by saying the response was obviously prepared by the city’s legal representative for my signature,” Cobb said, noting the complainant went on to say the city’s response was unsatisfactory and could best be described as “smoke and mirrors.”
The complainant also said he will pursue his belief further.
“Obviously this guy feels he is a watchdog of the city, I don’t know him personally and don’t think I have ever met him,” Cobb said.
Cobb has been on the legion board for five years. He also sits on the Glen Arbor board, Barkerville Heritage Trust, Rotary and is a past president of the Chamber of Commerce.