A group of Vancouver residents will file a petition in the Supreme Court of B.C. asking that councillor Michael Wiebe be removed from office due to conflict of interest.
Last month, a city-funded investigation by a Vancouver lawyer found Wiebe breached conflict rules in May by supporting a city-wide patio expansion program despite his ownership interests in a Vancouver pub and restaurant, with the investigator’s report recommending Wiebe should resign.
The investigator’s report said that Wiebe was in “a clear conflict of interest” when he participated in two council meetings in May discussing the temporary patio expansion program. Wiebe voted in favour of the patio policy at the May meetings, although when related matters came up the following month, he declared a conflict and recused himself.
Wiebe told Postmedia News that he didn’t think he was in a conflict in the May meetings, noting that the patio program was citywide, potentially affecting thousands of restaurants, cafes, bars and breweries. Wiebe believes the policy, which aims to help businesses remain viable and operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, is good for the whole hospitality sector and the city in general, and did not specifically benefit his businesses over others.
The investigation came only after a third party complaint was made to Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart’s office. Wiebe, who is one of three Green party councillors, has not resigned. The rest of council is comprised of four Non-Partisan Association councillors, one independent, one from OneCity and one from COPE.
A group of 15 petitioners — including the president of the NPA — will be filing a petition in the Supreme Court asking that Wiebe be booted off council.
The petition states, “As a result of the inaction by the mayor and the city council together and with the clear indication that Councillor Wiebe has no intentions to step aside from city council, the petitioners have no option but to proceed to court on the issue of conflict of interest.”
— with files from Dan Fumano