Whitewater councillor is noted for breach of conduct

·2 min read

Whitewater Region -- A recommendation of a reprimand to a Whitewater Region councillor by its own integrity commissioner was ignored by council at its August 3 council meeting.

The Leader was not privy to the report prior to it being attached to the minutes of that meeting, which will not be approved until tonight’s meeting (Aug. 17).

In a story published in the Aug. 10 edition of the Leader, it was reported: A Whitewater Region Township councillor was found not guilty….under the Code of Conduct for municipal council members. This was based solely on a statement provided by the councillor which read: The allegations made by Mr. Gilchrist are indisputably false, as has been proven with video evidence.

The Code of Conduct complaint stems from an incident on January 21, 2022, in which Councillor Chris Olmstead and Gypsy Lane resident Harold Gilchrist had a confrontation.

Integrity Commissioner Tony Fleming reviewed statements by the two people, as well as video taken by Coun. Olmstead.

In his recommendation to council, Mr. Fleming wrote:

Based on evidence adduced during the investigation it is apparent that the resident and Councillor Olmstead have a history of disagreement over the use of the road/trail by snowmobiles. The history and underlying reasons for their history are not relevant to this complaint. I note the history as context and to highlight that even in trying circumstances members of council must adhere to the Code of Conduct and treat all members of the public with respect. Unfortunately, in this circumstance Councillor Olmstead fell below that standard.

While I find there was a breach, the history also provides context for a recommendation to council. Neither party to the dispute acted civilly. The resident’s behaviour does not condone or excuse the councillor’s breach of the Code of Conduct, but given the heated circumstances, I find that the councillor’s behaviour was not so offensive that a financial penalty is warranted.

In his report to council, Mr. Fleming recommended council issue a reprimand to Coun. Olmstead to remind him of the standard of behaviour expected of all members in all circumstances.

At the August 3 council meeting, council did not discuss the report. Instead, it passed a motion to attach the report to the August 3 minutes, to be approved at tonight’s council meeting.

A motion to reprimand Coun. Olmstead did not make it on to the table.

Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader