Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra to apologize after not properly disclosing property

·4 min read
The city's integrity commissioner found Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra breached rules for failing to disclose his financial interest in a property in Inglewood in the city's southeast. (FRITZOLOGY INC - image credit)
The city's integrity commissioner found Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra breached rules for failing to disclose his financial interest in a property in Inglewood in the city's southeast. (FRITZOLOGY INC - image credit)

A veteran city councillor said he "screwed up" and will apologize to Calgarians for failing to report his interest in a property in his ward.

The city's integrity commissioner, Ellen-Anne O'Donnell, investigated following a 2021 complaint about Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra's investment in a property.

She determined Carra violated council's code of conduct for failing to add that property to his publicly available disclosure form which must be filed by all council members.

In a report dated June 20, 2022, O'Donnell said there were five occasions between 2016 and 2021 that Carra should have updated his disclosure form but he failed to do so.

Submitted by Mustard Productions
Submitted by Mustard Productions

That update only happened in spring 2022 when Carra and his wife bought the whole lot and the title changed hands.

Council voted in early July to sanction Carra, requesting that he apologize to Calgarians and that he take both ethics and records management training.

Carra told the commissioner that he had a handshake agreement with a businessman for the riverfront property at 66 New Street S.E. and made a $300,000 down payment.

Two houses planned

The landowner planned to tear down the 1970s duplex on the property, subdivide the parcel and build two new houses — one of which Carra and his wife would purchase.

Submitted by Land and Property Rights Tribunal
Submitted by Land and Property Rights Tribunal

CBC News first reported on Carra's property interest in 2016 but he did not mention at that time that he paid a $300,000 down payment.

When asked why he failed to document the transaction as required, Carra took full responsibility.

"I screwed up," he said of his failure to report the property on his disclosure form. "I absolutely should have. I'm literally kicking myself that I didn't."

Council members are required to fill out that form within 30 days of an election and within 30 days of any changes to their holdings.

"The only answer I can give is that clearly my intention was not to hide my ownership in this," said Carra.

In fact, Carra had declared his interest in the property during council meetings, in media interviews as well as during a hearing by Alberta's Land and Property Rights Tribunal.

Permits upheld

Some residents in Inglewood asked the tribunal to overturn the City of Calgary's decision to approve a development permit for two new houses on the property.

In its January 2022 decision, the tribunal determined the city approvals were legal. The Alberta Court of Appeal later rejected hearing an appeal.

Any dealings with the city on the development permit were not handled by Carra but rather by officials in the office of then-mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Carra said he understands that his original handshake agreement with businessman Brian Kernick might raise questions for some.

He described Kernick as a family friend and a business acquaintance from the past.

"I absolutely understand that this could look shady and that's why I talked everything through with (council's) ethics advisor."

The integrity commissioner concluded the violation of the code of conduct was of "moderate severity."

Apology coming

Carra plans to apologize to his colleagues and to Calgarians at the July 26 council meeting for breaching the rules.

A professor of political studies at Mount Royal University, Duane Bratt, said Carra created problems for himself by failing to follow council policy.

Scott Dippel/CBC
Scott Dippel/CBC

He said there are rules like real estate disclosure because of public concerns about elected officials who make land rules and their relationship with developers as well as the need to be clear about their own finances and property holdings.

"This is always a problem in municipal politics and this highlights the reason that we need accurate disclosure forms and not handshake agreements," said Bratt.

"Admitting an error is one thing. Admitting an error that was replicated over a number of years, that's a political problem."

The next municipal election is not until October 2025.

Carra said he's unsure if the incident will hurt his relationships with council members. But he's unequivocal when asked if it will hurt him politically. "Nope," said the councillor who was first elected in 2010.

As for the property he now owns on New Street, the empty, aging duplex is still there.

Carra is unsure what the future holds for the riverfront property, which has an assessed value of $1.2 million.

He said he and his wife will look for potential investors for one of the two houses that could be built there or they may sell it.

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