Residents file court petition to have Lantzville’s Bob Colclough removed for conflict

Councillor says he had “nothing to gain” from votes on residential development and water connection to Nanaimo
A group of Lantzville residents are going to court to have one of their councillors removed from office over alleged conflicts of interest tied to a major housing development and its need for Nanaimo’s water.

Bob Colclough

The 12 residents claim that councillor Bob Colclough has been in conflict during council discussions and votes related to the 730-home Foothills residential project and Lantzville’s agreement to connect to Nanaimo’s water system.

The allegations are contained in a petition to the Supreme Court in Nanaimo that was filed last Friday and served on Mr. Colclough yesterday afternoon. The allegations contained in the petition have not been proven in court.

Mr. Colclough told News Nanaimo he will defend himself against the petition. “I totally disagree. I’m not in a conflict. It’s a bunch of miscellaneous bits and pieces strung together. I have nothing to gain from any of those motions that I was involved in,” he said.

“Significant insider knowledge”

In their Supreme Court petition, the residents claim Mr. Colclough owns land adjacent to the Foothills project and worked for the developer, Lone Tree Properties, up until June 30, 2015.

They claim he has “significant insider knowledge” and is owed $127,000 by a Lone Tree predecessor company.

The Lantzville Foothills website says the project is “a new master-planned community for 730 homes, a mixed use village and a 900 acre park.”

The residents allege that Mr. Colclough has a deal with Lone Tree to subdivide and provide roads, water and sewer services to his own property. Lone Tree “will be the recipient of water connections once Lantzville commences the Lantzville-Nanaimo water agreement,” the residents claim.

The petition asks the court to declare that Mr. Colclough has a financial interest in the outcome of council decisions on the Foothills project and the Nanaimo-Lantzville water agreement.

The residents want the court to remove him as councillor for participating in council deliberations and voting while conflicted. A by-election would then have to be held to fill his seat.

The petition points to Mr. Colclough’s participation in an October 12 motion related to his property and the Foothills project. It says while the councillor had earlier declared a conflict related to Foothills, he participated in the October discussion without giving a legal opinion explaining why he was not conflicted.

Further, the petition asks the court to find that Mr. Colclough was in fact in conflict at the time of the October meeting.

Water pipeline build in jeopardy

The residents also want the court to declare that Mr. Colclough had a conflict of interest in September when he voted in favour of proceeding to build a pipeline to connect the Lantzville water system to Nanaimo’s under a 2014 agreement.

If the court finds that Mr. Colclough is conflicted, the vote to proceed with the pipeline will fail on a tie vote.

Mr. Colclough told News Nanaimo he is on record as being opposed to connecting to the Nanaimo water system “at this time.” He said he supports the pipeline being installed in case of an emergency, such as contamination of Lantzville’s aquifer.

In their petition, the residents allege that Mr. Colclough has voted against attempts by councillors to get staff and legal advice on the effectiveness of a 2006 bylaw concerning off-property water connections that affects his property.

The court petition is the latest development in long-simmering tensions between two factions on Lantzville’s seven-member council.

One group consists of three original council members elected in 2014, including Mayor Colin Haime, his wife Denise Haime and outspoken councillor John Coulson. They have expressed concerns about potential conflicts between councillors and planned property developments that will benefit if Lantzville connects to Nanaimo’s water system.

The second faction holds a majority and is made up of four councillors elected in a 2015 by-election after four original councillors resigned amid personal clashes and staff resignations.

The majority, which supports the Nanaimo-Lantzville water agreement, is seen as being led by local lawyer Will Geselbracht and includes Mr. Colclough, Mark Swaine and Dot Neary.

On Monday, the council voted 4-3 to remove the mayor as its representative on the Regional District of Nanaimo, where he is considered a senior member of the board. Mr. Colclough was appointed in his place.

The court petition is embedded below: