Gilles Vaillancourt, the beleaguered mayor of Laval, Que., has announced he is stepping down in the wake of mounting corruption allegations.
As he announced his resignation, Vaillancourt highlighted his love for Laval, saying that his top priority was always the city's future.
“I’ve only had one desire, to make Laval a success,” he said on Friday.
Vaillancourt continued to deny all allegations of corruption.
“We’re facing allegations that, even without proof, are altering the reputations of those in whom you have placed your trust. I am one of these people and I have been deeply hurt. Regardless of what I do or say, it is clear that the damage has been done,” he said.
Vaillancourt has been mayor for 23 years, and for the last 10 of them, his PRO-des-Lavallois party has been unopposed at city hall.
He announced on Oct. 24 he was taking a medical leave of absence, on the same day the mayor's safety deposit boxes were searched by investigators with Quebec's anti-corruption squad, known by its French acronym UPAC.
That raid coincided with allegations against the mayor that surfaced at the Charbonneau inquiry into corruption in Quebec's construction industry.
A key witness, the former head of the now-bankrupt construction firm Infrabec, Lino Zambito, testified Vaillancourt collected a 2.5 per cent kickback on all public works contracts.
Also in recent weeks, the mayor's home, his office and other city departments have been the subject of a series of UPAC raids.