Conflict of interest rules may exclude Braden from road talks

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The legal question of whether rural Flamborough Councillor Dave Braden has a conflict of interest over a preferred transportation route through Waterdown is expected to hang in the balance this week.

At press deadline, Councillor Braden wasn't expected to attend a city council meeting this week when the proposed network for new roads was to be addressed.

Braden is a partial executor and beneficiary of his mother's estate on Mountain Brow Road, which is slated to become a four-lane road as part of the Waterdown-Aldershot Transportation Master Plan. One of his brothers owns an adjacent property.

Last week, at a meeting of Hamilton's public works, infrastructure and environment committee, Braden commented on the transportation report and tried unsuccessfully to convince council colleagues to delay the process so that proposed residential growth that is driving the roads project can be examined.

He indicated that he favours "a balanced community," which includes not only residential growth but a mix of residential, industrial and commercial properties.

Braden prefaced his comments by telling those attending the public meeting at the Bohemian Banquet Centre in Waterdown, "My relatives still live in this immediate area and that's why it's important to me."

Braden's potential conflict of interest came to light through an internal e-mail sent to council by Flamborough Councillor Margaret McCarthy. A proponent of the roads project, McCarthy is also chair of the public works, infrastructure and environment committee.

Braden didn't declare a conflict of interest last week, nor was he challenged to declare one.

Last June, he notified Hamilton's city clerk Kevin Christenson by letter that he was declaring "a personal interest" in his mother's property on Mountain Brow Road, "on the advice of my lawyer."

In the same letter, he stated:

"At this point, I have no need to abstain from any planning debates on Waterdown transportation issues as my interests are common to many other residents and owners who might be affected by future plans."

RESPONSE

The day following the receipt of Braden's letter, Christenson responded, telling him, "In spite of your letter, you will still be required to assess, on an individual basis, whether any item brought before city council and committee affects this property and potentially your interest in it. In such a case, you would need to declare an interest and abstain from debating, influencing and voting on the matter."

COUNSEL

While at least two Waterdown residents have contacted the clerk this week to admonish him for not preventing Braden from speaking on the issue, the clerk's department has advised that the city clerk cannot counsel individual councillors and that it is the obligation of each councilor to comply with the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. The Act does make an exception for a councillor whose pecuniary interest in an issue is an interest commonly held by electors generally.

Rose Caterini, manager of legislative services in the city clerk's office, noted that any elector in Hamilton who perceives a conflict of interest can, within six weeks of learning about it, apply to a judge for a ruling.

The roads report, which asked for the committee's approval to proceed to the next phase of the transportation plan, was approved at committee last week. It went to city council for final approval after the Review's press deadline Wednesday night.

Conflict of interest rules may exclude Braden from road talks

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The legal question of whether rural Flamborough Councillor Dave Braden has a conflict of interest over a preferred transportation route through Waterdown is expected to hang in the balance this week.

At press deadline, Councillor Braden wasn't expected to attend a city council meeting this week when the proposed network for new roads was to be addressed.

Braden is a partial executor and beneficiary of his mother's estate on Mountain Brow Road, which is slated to become a four-lane road as part of the Waterdown-Aldershot Transportation Master Plan. One of his brothers owns an adjacent property.

Last week, at a meeting of Hamilton's public works, infrastructure and environment committee, Braden commented on the transportation report and tried unsuccessfully to convince council colleagues to delay the process so that proposed residential growth that is driving the roads project can be examined.

He indicated that he favours "a balanced community," which includes not only residential growth but a mix of residential, industrial and commercial properties.

Braden prefaced his comments by telling those attending the public meeting at the Bohemian Banquet Centre in Waterdown, "My relatives still live in this immediate area and that's why it's important to me."

Braden's potential conflict of interest came to light through an internal e-mail sent to council by Flamborough Councillor Margaret McCarthy. A proponent of the roads project, McCarthy is also chair of the public works, infrastructure and environment committee.

Braden didn't declare a conflict of interest last week, nor was he challenged to declare one.

Last June, he notified Hamilton's city clerk Kevin Christenson by letter that he was declaring "a personal interest" in his mother's property on Mountain Brow Road, "on the advice of my lawyer."

In the same letter, he stated:

"At this point, I have no need to abstain from any planning debates on Waterdown transportation issues as my interests are common to many other residents and owners who might be affected by future plans."

RESPONSE

The day following the receipt of Braden's letter, Christenson responded, telling him, "In spite of your letter, you will still be required to assess, on an individual basis, whether any item brought before city council and committee affects this property and potentially your interest in it. In such a case, you would need to declare an interest and abstain from debating, influencing and voting on the matter."

COUNSEL

While at least two Waterdown residents have contacted the clerk this week to admonish him for not preventing Braden from speaking on the issue, the clerk's department has advised that the city clerk cannot counsel individual councillors and that it is the obligation of each councilor to comply with the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. The Act does make an exception for a councillor whose pecuniary interest in an issue is an interest commonly held by electors generally.

Rose Caterini, manager of legislative services in the city clerk's office, noted that any elector in Hamilton who perceives a conflict of interest can, within six weeks of learning about it, apply to a judge for a ruling.

The roads report, which asked for the committee's approval to proceed to the next phase of the transportation plan, was approved at committee last week. It went to city council for final approval after the Review's press deadline Wednesday night.

Conflict of interest rules may exclude Braden from road talks

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The legal question of whether rural Flamborough Councillor Dave Braden has a conflict of interest over a preferred transportation route through Waterdown is expected to hang in the balance this week.

At press deadline, Councillor Braden wasn't expected to attend a city council meeting this week when the proposed network for new roads was to be addressed.

Braden is a partial executor and beneficiary of his mother's estate on Mountain Brow Road, which is slated to become a four-lane road as part of the Waterdown-Aldershot Transportation Master Plan. One of his brothers owns an adjacent property.

Last week, at a meeting of Hamilton's public works, infrastructure and environment committee, Braden commented on the transportation report and tried unsuccessfully to convince council colleagues to delay the process so that proposed residential growth that is driving the roads project can be examined.

He indicated that he favours "a balanced community," which includes not only residential growth but a mix of residential, industrial and commercial properties.

Braden prefaced his comments by telling those attending the public meeting at the Bohemian Banquet Centre in Waterdown, "My relatives still live in this immediate area and that's why it's important to me."

Braden's potential conflict of interest came to light through an internal e-mail sent to council by Flamborough Councillor Margaret McCarthy. A proponent of the roads project, McCarthy is also chair of the public works, infrastructure and environment committee.

Braden didn't declare a conflict of interest last week, nor was he challenged to declare one.

Last June, he notified Hamilton's city clerk Kevin Christenson by letter that he was declaring "a personal interest" in his mother's property on Mountain Brow Road, "on the advice of my lawyer."

In the same letter, he stated:

"At this point, I have no need to abstain from any planning debates on Waterdown transportation issues as my interests are common to many other residents and owners who might be affected by future plans."

RESPONSE

The day following the receipt of Braden's letter, Christenson responded, telling him, "In spite of your letter, you will still be required to assess, on an individual basis, whether any item brought before city council and committee affects this property and potentially your interest in it. In such a case, you would need to declare an interest and abstain from debating, influencing and voting on the matter."

COUNSEL

While at least two Waterdown residents have contacted the clerk this week to admonish him for not preventing Braden from speaking on the issue, the clerk's department has advised that the city clerk cannot counsel individual councillors and that it is the obligation of each councilor to comply with the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. The Act does make an exception for a councillor whose pecuniary interest in an issue is an interest commonly held by electors generally.

Rose Caterini, manager of legislative services in the city clerk's office, noted that any elector in Hamilton who perceives a conflict of interest can, within six weeks of learning about it, apply to a judge for a ruling.

The roads report, which asked for the committee's approval to proceed to the next phase of the transportation plan, was approved at committee last week. It went to city council for final approval after the Review's press deadline Wednesday night.