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COUNCILLOR MANAGING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

COUNCILLOR MANAGING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST


A glance at the City of Burlington’s Conflicts of Interest Registry shows that Ward One Councillor Kelvin Galbraith has declared a conflict more than any other member of City Council. Of the 32 registered conflicts this term, 17 are from Galbraith.

The challenge the Councillor faces results from the fact that his business, along with two attached pieces of property, are located within the boundary of a significant growth area known as the Major Transit Station Area (MTSA).  In addition, his home is only steps away from the boundary of the MTSA.

Developers began focusing on Galbraith’s neighbourhood in 2017 when the City took the first steps toward creating the MTSA, known at that time as a Mobility Hub. Galbraith was not on City Council at the time.

Galbraith knows that developers would love to get hold of his land, but he claims that he is not taking the initiative.

“I do not consider myself a developer, but I do anticipate becoming part of a development sometime in the future……Our primary interest is keeping the Fitness Club in operation within a comprehensive development surrounding our site”

The Councillor’s most recent declaration of conflict of interest related to the proposed 29 storey building on the east side of Waterdown Road, across the street from his property. He did not participate in the debate or vote on the issue. City Council eventually turned down the developer’s request.

By far, however, most of Galbraith’s conflicts occurred earlier in the term and were related to the development of two seven-storey buildings on Masonry Court, behind his home on Queen Mary Avenue. The buildings were eventually approved by the other members of Council.

“Due to the appeal and number of decision points along the way, I had to declare conflicts 15 times on a single file”, reported Galbraith.

Galbraith points out that his is not alone in managing potential conflicts which may arise in his highly active neighbourhood.

“We have an independent integrity commissioner available to councillors for advice on conflict matters, so I have reached out to them on several issues and have been provided advice along the way”.

The tall buildings and intensification proposed for the MTSA area remain controversial, but Galbraith claims that his current and potential conflicts will not get in the way of his ability to represent his constituents.

“Growth and tall buildings are coming and there is very little that one councillor could do to stop it or alter any of the planned intensification. I still do have the ability to meet with developers and share the vision of Aldershot residents and the business community to help them understand the local issues”.

by Rick Craven

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