Vancouver city councillor's conflict of interest charge dismissed

·2 min read
Vancouver Coun. Michael Wiebe is an owner of Eight 1/2 Restaurant and an investor in the Portside Pub. (Instagram/@Eightandahalfresto - image credit)
Vancouver Coun. Michael Wiebe is an owner of Eight 1/2 Restaurant and an investor in the Portside Pub. (Instagram/@Eightandahalfresto - image credit)

Vancouver Coun. Michael Wiebe will not have to resign and will not be disqualified from holding office over allegations he failed to declare a conflict of interest when promoting and voting for the expansion of Vancouver's temporary expedited patio program (TEPP) in the spring of 2020.

On Monday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice J.J. Steeves dismissed a petition against Wiebe brought by 15 complainants under the Vancouver Charter.

Steeves ruled that the Green Party councillor's ownership of Vancouver's Eight ½ Restaurant and part interest in the Portside Pub did not constitute a direct conflict of interest because the TEPP applies broadly to all Vancouver restaurants.

"I conclude that the respondent had a pecuniary interest in common with other members of the group of restaurant and bar owners. There is no evidence he asserted an interest that is personal to him in the sense of being distinct from other owners of restaurants and bars," said Steeves.

In a statement, Wiebe thanked his supporters.

"I was doing exactly what I ran on — standing up for small business and helping Vancouver businesses survive COVID-19 pandemic restrictions."

Eight ½ Restaurant was one of the first 14 businesses to receive temporary patio permits from the city.

An earlier independent investigation by lawyer Raymond E. Young found that Wiebe's "conflict of interest actions cannot be viewed as an error in judgment made in good faith."

Young, who was appointed by Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, said Weibe, "[wore] two hats when dealing with city staff: that of a council member and that of a business owner."

Young recommended Wiebe resign and be disqualified from sitting on city council, park board and other local government bodies.

Last year, Weibe compared his actions to city councillors who own property and vote to decrease property taxes, although he did also issue an apology.

"Despite my best intentions, I inadvertently made an error in this matter and I'm deeply sorry that I did," he said in September 2020.

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