Outgoing North Algona Wilberforce mayor questioned over ministerial letter

Mark Jones

LAKE DORE The last meeting of the outgoing council of the Township of North Algona Wilberforce primarily concerned a letter addressed to Mayor Deborah Farr from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, which was copied to Premier Ford.

A copy of the letter from the minister was attached to the agenda of the special council meeting of November 27.

When the issue was discussed at the meeting, Farr said she was surprised it was an agenda item, she thought it should come under correspondence.

The image of the letter was projected onto the wall of the council chamber for the 20 people in the gallery to read.

The minister’s letter begins by referring to Farr’s concerns with accountability and transparency in the township. The minister writes that he will pass Farr’s suggestions on this topic to the appropriate staff.

In the second paragraph, the minister writes that all municipalities are expected to follow the law, ministry staff will be in touch with township staff.

The third paragraph of the minister’s letter deals with the means by which councillors can be held to account by residents, through local integrity commissioners, the Ontario Ombudsman and the courts.

It was the fourth paragraph that became the centre of debate in the council chamber. It reads as follows.

“You also raise the issue of suspected fraud. If you have reason to believe that criminal activity has occurred, I encourage you to bring this to the attention of the Ontario Provincial Police.”

After the letter was put on the screen, there were 40 seconds of shuffling silence before anyone spoke.

Outgoing Councillor Doug Schultz who decided not to run for re-election in the October election, addressed Farr about the minister’s letter.

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