Vancouver city councillor investigated after code of conduct complaint
VANCOUVER -- A Vancouver city councillor is being investigated by an independent body following a complaint from a member of the public.
The complaint stems from a vote Coun. Michael Wiebe participated in back on May 12 and 13, which had directed city staff to work with business operators on temporary patio seating for restaurants.
CTV News obtained a copy of the confidential report written by lawyer Ray Young, who Mayor Kennedy Stewart asked to be an independent investigator to look into a complaint made by a member of the public.
Wiebe is the owner of Eight ½ Restaurant and Lounge, which according to its website is now called Side Hustle Sandwiches. It was one of the first few in the city to get approval for a temporary patio extension.
In his statement about the investigation, Wiebe said it was one of the first 14 restaurants because "I already have city-approved patio drawings from my frequent participation in street festivals, and my spot did not have any complications, like a loading zone, taxi stand, passenger zone or utility cover."
He said before voting on the motion he consulted city management and that it was his understanding that "the patio policy would be broad and citywide, benefitting all of Vancouver's restaurant sector, as well as breweries with tasting rooms and even common public spaces, and that the policy doesn't specifically benefit me over other operators."
The mayor's office received the report Saturday and Kennedy Stewart said he is reviewing the case.
"Section 8 of the City of Vancouver Code of Conduct policy outlines the responsibilities of the mayor when a complaint is filed against a member of city council, including appointing a third-party investigator to carry out an investigation who is agreed to by both the complainant and respondent. The investigator conducts and completes a fair and impartial investigation and then provides a copy to me, the complainant, and the respondent," he said in a statement.
Stewart said he can then take further action in his own review, including making recommendations to council, depending on the contents of the report.
Stewart said he is currently reviewing the investigator's report to determine what his next steps would be, and could not comment further.
In his statement to CTV News, Wiebe said he was "deeply distressed" the code of conduct investigation had taken place without his knowledge, and said he was not allowed to provide "fulsome information."
CTV News has reached out to the complainant but has not heard back.
Along with being an owner and operator of a restaurant, Wiebe is also an investor in the Portside Pub.
The report finds Wiebe should have recused himself from the votes and suggests the fact he didn’t disqualifies him from holding office in the city until the next election.
It also spells out a process to force him out through the courts if he refuses to step down.
All of the votes investigated as part of the complaint passed unanimously so if Wiebe had recused himself it likely wouldn’t have changed the outcome.