The Town of Deer Lake says it has refuted a claim that Coun. Myra Spence was in a conflict of interest in relation to the ongoing crematorium issue in the community.
Mayor Dean Ball read a statement on the issue that will be released to the media today, during Monday night’s public council meeting at the town hall.
The statement comes after The Western Star published an article on Saturday that said Spence participated in the discussion and voted to approve the application even though her husband’s company, Dan Spence Refrigeration Ltd., was listed on a contractor information sheet as part of the application package for the project.
The allegation against Spence is the latest in the controversy that has stemmed from the decision to approve the application from Parsons Funeral Home.
Residents opposed to the crematorium being located in a residential area and near a school have protested outside and filled the council gallery during the previous three meetings.
Monday’s meeting was the first where there were no protestors outside and only 16 people, not all of them against the project, took in the meeting from the gallery.
Still there was a sense of tension in the room as the meeting got underway and, after dealing with a procedural issue, Ball read out the statement, which said Spence was unaware the company was listed as one of the contractors when the issue was discussed and voted on on Oct. 16.
He said the information in The Star’s article did not attribute the accusation to a specified source.
He continued that Spence only found out about this after she voted in favour of the application.
After the meeting Ball said Spence did not have a copy of the actual application when the vote occurred.
“When it comes from committee we don’t get the background documentation,” he said.
“Without seeing all the documentation, which is not provided to council, it’s only provided to committee level. How would she know?”
When asked if not having information like that is a problem, Ball responded: “It’s a major issue.”
But he said this is a practice that has been occurring in municipalities for years.
As far as council is concerned, though, he said the issue is done.
“And we’re moving on. We’ve got business to do and we just want to get on with work.”
The issue may not be totally finished though, as it is now the subject of an appeal with the Western Regional Appeal Board.
“Until they make a decision, this is off the table for us,” said Ball.