Mulmur requests an inquiry on Hilchey

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Mulmur Council voted at its Wednesday meeting to have its Integrity Commissioner conduct a formal inquiry to determine whether Councillor Lynn Hilchey is in contravention of Mulmur’s Code of Conduct.

It’s the second time Council has made such a decision; in August, a choice was made to forward Mulmur resident John Thomson’s letter of concern about Hilchey to the Integrity Commissioner for “comments and recommendations.” A report from Integrity Commissioner Connie Phillipson came back to Council Wednesday night, however, pointing out that, under the Mulmur Code of Conduct complaint protocol, she has no authority to respond to informal complaints. Rather, she reported, the Code of Conduct says that Council must request a “formal inquiry” and point out what part of the code it believes has been breached.

Thomson’s complaint dealt with the fact that Hilchey and her husband are currently under investigation for various building code and property standards violations on their property, as well as being in receipt of an order from Council to remove a large greenhouse that was erected without a building permit and is in contravention of the Township’s zoning bylaw.

Section 3.4 of Mulmur’s Code of Conduct states that “Members of Council are expected to perform their duties in Office and arrange their private affairs in a manner that promotes public confidence and will bear the burden of close public scrutiny.” Section 3.5 goes on to say that “Members of Council shall seek to serve the public interest by upholding both thc letter and the spirit of the laws and policies of the Federal Parliament of Canada, the Ontario Legislature, and the Township of Mulmur Council.”

In discussing the matter Wednesday night, there was some confusion over the wording of the Integrity Commissioner’s report, with Deputy Mayor Rhonda Campbell Moon disagreeing that it was asking for a more formal request. Instead, she thought the report, which was written in a very legal manner, said that the Hilchey matter was outside of the Integrity Commissioner’s jurisdiction.

With Hilchey out of the room after declaring a conflict of interest, the vote was then 3-1 in favour of requesting a formal inquiry, with Campbell Moon the only vote against the motion.
The report also noted that should an inquiry find that Hilchey is in contravention of the Code of Conduct, only Council has the authority to decide on a penalty. In no circumstances does the Integrity Commissioner have the ability to suggest a punishment.

The report contained a second recommendation that was not acted upon, which suggested that Council could amend its Code of Conduct to allow for the Integrity Commissioner to be part of the discussion that results from an informal complaint. Currently, the formal inquiry is the Integrity Commissioner’s only option for input.

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