It appears that the conflict of issue guidelines are not being applied fairly with respect to the planning of Cornwall’s Lamoureux Park. Several local residents raised this concern at a recent waterfront meeting on June 12 at the Civic Complex.
At issue is the potential to develop a small parcel of land east of the Complex to build a condominium. It became clear as the meeting progressed that the majority of residents in attendance strongly opposed this option.
The purpose of conflict of interest guidelines is to protect the public interest in all matters. In the case of waterfront development for the city of Cornwall, it is paramount that committee members do not have a private interest in the outcome of decisions.
What some people may not realize is that a conflict of interest disclosure may only be declared by an individual. Therefore, you may think that someone has, or should have a conflict of interest on a certain topic, but if that person doesn’t recognize it or acknowledge it, nothing happens.
Now, with that context in mind, imagine the shock when Cornwall residents saw that a local developer, Guy Menard was leading a presentation about the future of Lamoureux Park, and suggesting the possibility of building a condominium in the adjacent parking lot. Despite what Mr. Menard says or does, this is an obvious conflict of interest. How can a developer, someone who makes his living in the construction industry, be a reliable steward for public lands?
What is also disconcerting, is that a member of the committee, Roy Perkins, a local building supplier, lobbied hard to get committee members to support the building of a condominium in that space, as reported in the June 16, 2011 minutes of the Waterfront Committee.
What is going on here? There seems to be very little respect for the intelligence of the people of Cornwall.
This is why alarm bells went off at the June 16 meeting. People were upset that the public meeting was being called after certain committee members and others on city council had flushed out the ‘right’ future for the park. As former MP Ed Lumley pointed out last week, the waterfront land was set aside in the 70’s for the people, and it is clear that the people do not want to sell off their interest.
Now would be an excellent time for the City of Cornwall to step up to the plate, and give new meaning to the often quoted ‘transparency and openness’ mantra that you hear at every council meeting.
Fairness and ethical behaviour must always be carried out, and be seen to be carried out at any function carried out by the City of Cornwall.
I would suggest that the waterfront committee has lost confidence of the majority of the citizens of Cornwall.
I think it’s time to press the reset button.
Kevin Parkinson – Cornwall Ontario
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