A Nanaimo city councillor says there is no conflict of interest issue preventing her from voting on motions related to the Colliery dams, despite suggestions to the contrary raised by an advocacy group involved with the issue.
Coun. Diane Brennan was singled out in a letter to Nanaimo's mayor and council from Denelle Lambert, a lawyer representing Colliery Dams Preservation Society member Craig Evans.
The letter refers to an Aug. 7, 2013 council special council meeting where the Colliery dams were being discussed.
At one point in the meeting, council began to discuss the possibility of involving Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district as a stakeholder to help put together a short-term risk mitigation plan for the Colliery dams.
Brennan is married to school district board chairman Jamie Brennan.
Jamie Brennan and the rest of the school board recently wrote to the province, asking the government to require the city to take "immediate action" to address the risks to life and property posed by the dams, including John Barsby Secondary School.
When the topic of whether to include the school district in consultations came up for discussion at the Aug. 7 council meeting, Diane Brennan excused herself from the room.
She said Wednesday that she did so because of her husband's role with the school district as chairman.
"I thought that I would be perceived to be in a conflict or that there would be an apprehension of bias on my part with regard to whether the school board should be involved in the consultations," she said.
But Brennan rejected the suggestion that she has any conflict of interest issue with regard to the Colliery dams issue.
The letter to council asks council to clarify "the nature of councillor Brennan's conflict" and states she should not participate in meetings, discussions or votes on the dams "so long as she is in conflict."
Mayor John Ruttan said the city has not yet had a chance to respond to the letter, but may seek a legal opinion on the matter.
© Copyright 2013