No conflict in Holyrood, says council

By Mark Squibb | Mar. 25, 2021

Holyrood has apparently written the final word in a controversial chapter of the town’s history, as council voted Tuesday that Deputy Mayor Curtis Buckle and Recreation and Community Events Director Steve Martin were not in conflict of interest over the since withdrawn Beachhead Brewery application.

Councillor Jim Joy assumed the mayor’s chair while Mayor Kevin Costello presented information about the way the town handled the allegations.

Costello didn’t specify who made the allegations, nor the specifics of them.

“Elected officials, and in this case the deputy mayor, are subject to the conflict-of-interest legislation contained in the Municipalities Act,” said Costello. “Staff members, in this case Mr. Steve Martin, are not subject to those conflict-of-interest allegations contained in the Municipalities Act, but are subject to other disciplinary processes contained in Sections 67 and 68 of the Act. Council has the obligation to deal with all such conflict-of-interest allegations.”

Costello added while the matter has to be dealt with by presenting a public motion in the case of an elected official, a public motion is not required to deal with allegations leveled against staff members.

He noted that former mayor Gary Goobie, who resigned from council over the town’s handling of the brewery application, initiated talks with the town’s lawyer about the allegations before he resigned.

“The previous mayor started the process of addressing these allegations, and engaged our town lawyer to find the facts in relation to the allegations, and present council with various examples of case law, and their interpretation of the overall situation,” said Costello. “Once I became mayor, I met with the lawyer to be briefed on the current status of the allegations and to get some of my own questions answered.”

Costello said a six-page document was prepared by the lawyer and presented to council on February 24. He also said that he had two meetings with a representative from Municipal Affairs to ensure due diligence was being followed, and that a private meeting of council, with no staff members present, was held last week to discuss the information.

“The legal opinion that was received from our lawyer is just that; it’s an opinion,” said Costello. “Councilors still have the responsibility to consider all information received and formulate their own thoughts before voting.”

Council first voted on whether Buckle was in conflict. Costello reminded his colleagues that the question of conflict is strictly related to monetary gain. Council voted unanimously that Buckle was not in conflict-of-interest as it related to the BeachHead Brewery proposal.

Before the motion was made to declare whether Martin was in conflict, Costello declared that he fully supported the long time staff member.

“I know the impact that these allegations have had on Mr. Martin, and I hope we can put it all behind us now,” said Costello. “I have full confidence in the work Mr. Martin has done for the town, and I believe the town will benefit greatly from his efforts moving forward. I personally don’t believe Mr. Martin would do anything to negatively impact the Town of Holyrood in anyway, and I have full confidence in him.”

Council unanimously found Martin not to be in a conflict-of-interest.

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