East Ferris planning chairman cleared of pecuniary interest allegations by integrity commissioner

·2 min read

Integrity Commissioner David King has cleared the East Ferris planning advisory committee chairman of conflict of interest allegations, according to a municipal media release issued today.

A resident fighting a subdivision plan approval registered a complaint to King six months ago, contending that PAC chairman John O’Rourke had a business relationship with the developer that she argued was a conflict.

The media release the municipality issued was in response to an article published by BayToday Nov. 17 that featured the frustrations Maggie Preston-Coles was facing in her effort to oppose the subdivision approval.

Preston-Coles, in the article, complained that the investigation was taking too long and she needed the results for her appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, while also expecting to take the issue to the Ontario Ombudsman depending on the result.

East Ferris, in the media release, stated it wanted to provide “complete and accurate information” to the public about the municipal planning progress because they were not contacted for comment for the Nov. 17 article.

Preston-Coles said the municipality should be doing its own studies when considering subdivision proposals, including traffic impact and environmental risks studies. The article didn’t initially make it clear the general practice is to have the developer hire professionals in their field do the studies while municipal staff review them. A clarification line to that effect was added to the story after an East Ferris staff member contacted the reporter.

“With respect to the conflict of interest allegation against our PAC member, the Integrity Commissioner’s role is to conduct inquiries into these types of allegations,” the media release stated. “In this case, the Integrity Commissioner has determined that the pecuniary interest is remote or insignificant and he will not be pursuing this matter any further.”

Preston-Coles has also complained to LPAT about having three appeal managers, with the latest one not communicating to her since July. That’s when she was told LPAT changed its mind, due to an East Ferris objection, and was not allowing her to add to the appeal her issues regarding the municipality’s official plan and rezoning approval.

Meanwhile, LPAT recently asked the municipality to submit a motion to dismiss the appeal entirely.

Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca