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Mayor says provincial government forcing Charlottetown into conflict of interest

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says the provincial government has put city council in a conflict of interest situation. Lee has recently said he is not running for re-election. ©THE GUARDIAN
Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says the provincial government has put city council in a conflict of interest situation. Lee has recently said he is not running for re-election. ©THE GUARDIAN - Dave Stewart

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says the provincial government has put city council in a conflict of interest situation.

The new Municipal Government Act states that the two cities in P.E.I., Charlottetown and Summerside, can have a mayor and eight councillors.

That’s well and fine for Summerside which already has a complement of eight councillors but it’s a problem in Charlottetown, which has been operating with a mayor and 10 councillors.

However, the act gives the City of Charlottetown an out. The province allows both cities to enact a bylaw upping its number of councillors to 10.

That’s what Charlottetown city council is in the process of doing. Council gave first reading to a new “council size bylaw’’ at its monthly public meeting on Monday. Second and final reading is expected to come at the May public meeting.

Lee said having to enact a bylaw to maintain the status quo of 10 councillors has put Charlottetown’s council in an awkward spot.

“I think it’s too self-serving for city council to have to even deal with that question,’’ Lee said. “I think that that question should have been one that’s in provincial legislation that either allows the City of Charlottetown to have 10 councillors or to say that you’ve got to have eight.

“To allow city council to determine that it can have 10 or it can have 12 or it can have 20, I think, it’s probably pretty close to a conflict on the part of council to have to deal with that question.’’

Lee said there simply shouldn’t be an option.

That’s not to say he blames council for moving ahead with first reading on the new bylaw to maintain the status quo.

“I appreciate and understand what council did and I know why they did it. it’s not like they’ve increased the size of council. We currently have 10 and 1 (mayor and council) and they just voted to maintain the status quo.’’

Lee also stressed that he’s not suggesting for a second that Charlottetown’s council be downsized by two members.

“I am suggesting that . . . the province should have made that decision and not the City of Charlottetown.’’

Dave.Stewart@TheGuardian.pe.ca

Twitter - DveStewart

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