Jock River Issue: Were Staff, Pols Scared Laws Were Broken?

When will the city media relations department stop becoming an agent of city politicians and staff and start working for the people of Ottawa by giving a non-spun version of meetings.

This is the same kind of sunny-side-up type of garbage that the provincial LRT inquiry condemned when Happy Town News offered their lipstick-on-a-pig version of events coming out of the inquiry. And here it is again.

Who do the denizens of city hall work for … themselves or the people of Ottawa? Increasingly, city hall looks like a club that plays with billions of taxpayer dollars in its own interests rather than the interests of those who pay the bills in a democracy. Democracy occurs (or should occur) every day, not just every four years.

And it appears, once again, that the primary interest of city hall is serving its political masters … the development community.

Take note of the auditor general’s report on the Jock River flood plain controversy.

Compare the AG’s version of events below with that of HTN. Were they at the same meeting?


 

This is the release from the auditor general’s office:

Today, Auditor General Nathalie Gougeon tabled a report based on allegations related to the City’s planning activities for the Conservancy Development in Barrhaven.  

The investigation highlighted gaps in City processes including: 

  • Exclusion of specific key City specialists from certain steps of the application review process;
  •  Issuance of a letter of support to the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) to continue work which had already been paused as a result of a preliminary assessment conducted by the City and the RVCA;
  • and
  • Not informing Council about the decision to pause work that was initiated as a Council direction.
  • Furthermore, the investigation highlighted that City management issued a letter to the RVCA supporting the developer’s proposed course of action (i.e., cut and fill application). The Auditor General outlines in her report that this action was inappropriate as the City should not take an advocacy or endorsement position for any specific developer or development.  

The Auditor General’s investigation report included three recommendations to the City. All recommendations were approved.  

A full copy of the report is available on the Auditor General’s website, www.oagottawa.ca. 

For further information, contact:
613 580-9602
OAG@ottawa.ca

 

Now we give you the city media relations version of event from Happy Town News:

The Audit Committee today heard details of an investigation into allegations related to the planning of The Conservancy development – a 56-hectare residential community under development in Barrhaven.

The Conservancy has more than three kilometres of Jock River frontage, and because of its location, a change to existing floodplain mapping was required before development could proceed. After a consultant determined that the peak flow rate had not changed, the City and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority agreed the floodplain mapping would not be updated. The developer applied for a cut and fill permit from the RVCA. The RVCA Executive Committee approved the cut and fill permit. While the City deviated from its normal process, the City did not contravene any legislative requirements in the steps taken for approval.

The Office of the Auditor General’s report recommended the City ensure that decisions and results associated with directions from City Council are communicated back to Council in a timely manner. It is further recommended a City communication be distributed to reiterate that staff do not take an advocacy or endorsement position for any developer or development, ensure the necessary City subject matter experts are involved when a consultant is leveraged to conduct a peer review. The City agreed with all three recommendations.

The Committee approved KPMG as the City’s new external auditor for a five-year term ending September 30, 2028. KPMG would also serve as the external auditor of Build Ottawa for the same period. KPMG will be responsible for the audit of the City’s consolidated financial statements as well as many other audit engagements related to City programs and related entities.

The Committee recommended Council approve the Audit Committee budget and the Office of the Auditor General’s workplan.

Recommendations from today’s meeting will rise to City Council on Wednesday, December 6.

For more information on City programs and services, visit ottawa.ca, call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401) or 613-580-2400 to contact the City using Canada Video Relay Service. You can also connect with us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

A little something missing from the city report on the meeting was that one thing rising to council is to ask the Ontario auditor general to investigate the Jock River controversy. Doubtful that council will support this because much of the council and mayoral staff still appear to work for the past administration. That said, council should support having the Ontario AG look at this because the issue is cross-jurisdictional and a set of independent eyes on this compost heap might result in a couple of mushrooms growing on top of the pile of … you know.

Also interesting is that HTN wrote that no laws were broken. Was anyone saying or even inferring that any laws had been broken in this Jock River issue? Sounds like city staff was scared that laws had been broken.

Maybe the city AG should take a peek at that again because city staff and politicians look to have been frightened that laws were broken.

No doubt the release was written before the meeting with political reps and city staff agreeing on wording.

Your agent listened to the meeting and no one brought up the issue of laws being broken. So why did the HTN release emphasize that no laws had been broken?

Were staff and council thinking that broken laws were possible … or probable?

Anybody want to take a shot at that?

Ken Gray

 —

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2 Responses

  1. Val Swinton says:

    Hi Ken,
    Correction, one councillor did ask whether the AG had any evidence of criminal acts.

  2. Andrew says:

    How many reports are needed for the mayor to get out of his chair and lead? It is evident through Terwin, Jock River, Lansdowne 1 and 2.0, The LRT that staff are NOT working in the Public Interest.
    Amalgamation let a lot of the good staff leave the city, leaving us with a culture of corrupt practices.
    It is time for the mayor to initiate a program of discovery, meetings, interviews, anonymous input to improve. The good will then have a voice against the corrupt. Outside input is required to get a positive change.

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