The Ombudsman in Saskatchewan has been investigating two rural municipalities. Sherwood councillor Tim Probe and former councillor Joe Repetski have been asked by voters and council to pay back money they used to cover legal fees that accumulated over a proposed development community, Wascana Village.
Repetski has now quit and Probe is facing criminal charges including breach of trust and municipal corruption. The Ombudsman is also recommending that Probe voluntarily step down from council, or that a judge remove him.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Ombudsman investigated yet another rural municipality, the Village of Manor, for an inappropriate land sale.
In that case, the mayor sold public land to her son without disclosing the decision, or giving the public any notice of the intention to sell, resulting in yet another conflict of interest scandal.
I spoke with Rod Benroth, Director of Public Works and Infrastructure for the Municipality of Sherwood who told me that the councillors haven’t paid the fees back yet and a decision on Probe’s charges will take place this June. He also tells me that the Municipal Act was revised to ensure councillors declare all interests when sworn in and are also made aware of conflict of interest legislation.
In Alberta, we’ve seen our own conflict of interest scandals in Acme, where citizens alleged that council wasn’t running basic services properly, an election was mismanaged and the mayor sold land to another councillor in contravention of the rules.
In Thorhild, three councillors were fired after an investigation, initiated by a petition signed by 800 residents, revealed inappropriate behaviour on the part of those members.
It’s hard to keep track of what governments at every level are up to especially as they’ve all grown so large. So large that they think they can get away with duping citizens out of their hard earned money in backroom deals, without the public’s knowledge.
So far, there is no word on whether Sherwood councillor Probe will be convicted, or whether he will be removed from council.