MOU: A ‘Blatant And Absolute’ Conflict Of Interest

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Some thoughts on the Tewin-City of Ottawa memorandum of understanding:

This MOU was signed September 22, 21 months ago, and councillors were not aware of it. Who besides the three signatories knew of the MOU?

Usually when contracts of this type are used, there is a statement that acknowledges that the people signing it have the authority to do so and can sign documents that bind the city or the Landowner. I would personally never sign a contract unless I was sure the people on the other side were authorized to act on behalf of the other party.

There are three parties listed as Landowners but only one signature (which is illegible). The city people have their names and positions spelled out. Who is the other person and who do they represent?

One of the three positions was to be paid by Tewin effective January 1, 2022, which is more than nine months prior to the MOU being signed.

The MOU says it’s intended to fund positions that the city does not have the funds for. If that’s the case, where did the money come from to pay that individual’s salary from January to September inclusive? Was that person not in a position for which council had allocated funding in the 2022 Budget?

What was the knowledge and/or involvement of the mayor and city manager of the day, Jim Watson and Steve Kanellakos, in the development and implementation of this set-up?

I can’t recall the exact timing of the arrival of the Tewin proposal when it was walked on to council with no notice. The proposal was also not presented to any standing committee before appearing at council. Was any part of the proposal worked on by any of the three Tewin-funded positions?

The mayor is responsible for the creation of the agenda for council meetings including the addition of items that don’t appear on the published agenda. Who, besides the mayor, on staff or council was aware that the Tewin proposal was going to be added to the agenda?

Were the people Tewin is paying for involved in any way with the preparation or presentation of the staff report that recommended the Tewin lands be included in the expansion of the urban boundary?

Are these three individuals city employees or contractors? If they are employees, will they be entitled to remain on the city payroll after this project is finished or the five years is up? If they are contractors, what is the situation of the individual whose salary was being paid for January to September by the city?

By the way, I saw no mention of this deal being for five years. The MOU says it will be terminated two months after the CDP and secondary plan are completed.

What happens if the project is not complete in five years but Tewin says it won’t continue the funding? Will the City, which the MOU states clearly has no money for these positions, be stuck with the bill anyway?

What happens if the approval of the addition of the Tewin lands to the urban boundary is reconsidered and approval is withdrawn? Who would prepare the report on the subject that would go to committee and council? Would such a report contain a recommendation prepared by staff funded by Tewin that the proposal be deep-sixed?

Do these staff have any muzzles on them when it comes to their relationship with Tewin? Do they have to respect any confidentiality restrictions between themselves and the entity that funds their work?

What about any other projects that any of the Tewin entities have presented to the city for approval? Do they have a wall around them that means these three people can know nothing about them?

Have none of the people involved in this fiasco ever heard of the concept of conflict of interest? Because this is not a perceived conflict; it’s a blatant and absolute conflict.

Lastly, let’s take this to its logical conclusion. Once other developers get wind of this, they will all want a similar arrangement. How long would it be before the entire planning department was staffed and funded this way? Think of the money we could save. But also think of a planning process that involves not putting the fox in charge of the henhouse but filling the henhouse with foxes.

The Voter is a respected community activist and long-time Bulldog commenter who prefers to keep her identity private.

3 Responses

  1. Bruce says:

    Is there anyone left in a senior position at city hall who has a semblance of integrity and a wee bit of ethical conduct?
    Other staff and even councilors have been the beneficiaries of developer skulduggery but not to this extent. Another first place prize for Ottawa in the quest to be the WORST managed city in Canada and perhaps in the democratic world.
    NOW is certainly the time for a FORD to cancel city council and the mayor positions and run Ottawa from Toronto.

  2. Ron Benn says:

    Conflict of interest? Yes. Business as usual? Also yes.

  3. C from Kanata says:

    I attended an FCM community association meeting about 5 years ago. One of the association reps Said that there was a planner on staff who actually was the developer for the
    project they were disputing. It makes you wonder if this arrangement has not been going on for some time with other developers too?

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