The big news from Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner, David Wake, is that he is prepared to summon “numerous witnesses” to find out if anyone had inside information about the removal of land from the Greenbelt and profited as a result.
Here in Newmarket all eyes are on Southlake’s Chief Executive, Arden Krystal, who was given a commitment by developer Michael Rice at a meeting on 1 November 2022 that he would gift Greenbelt land in King to Southlake for a new hospital.
Southlake tells me they have no records of that 1 November 2022 meeting on “Hospital expansion” other than the invitation from Daniel Kostopoulos, the Chief Administrative Officer of King who set the meeting up.
Southlake tells me with a straight face they have no idea when the invitation was sent nor to whom it was addressed.
This absurdity persuades me to appeal to the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner. It is in now in the works and and I wait to see what unfolds.
Quite separately I have asked Southlake for sight of any declarations of conflict of interest disclosed by Board members in the period from 1 June 2018 until 30 September 2022.
We know the Township of King facilitated the meeting on 1 November 2022 but, like Southlake, they say they have no record of what happened.
In the light of this, on 8 March 2023 I asked the Town Clerk, Denny Timm, to conduct a more focussed search, examining the files of Mr Kostopolous who was responsible for bringing everyone together.
Stephen Naylor, the Township’s Director of Growth Management, was also present at the meeting and I have asked for his files to be searched.
Mr Timm tells me he is reviewing my request and “will respond accordingly”.
Why no records?
If there are no paper or electronic records of such a consequential meeting it rather begs the question: why not?
Was it a deliberate decision not to take notes of the meeting?
I don’t know. But the former IPC Commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, expressed great concern in 2016 about the “culture of avoiding the creation of written and electronic records” in the Dalton McGuinty Government when it was struggling to contain the gas plant cancellation controversy.
Commissioner Wake can, of course, still ask the participants what they remember of that momentous 90-minute-long meeting.
I am sure they can all recall being there.
If so, that’s a good place to start.