British Columbia

In lawsuit against city, councillor alleges she was censured over a single tree

Laura Dupont was censured and removed from her position on Metro Vancouver’s climate action committee in May, after a third-party investigator found she disclosed confidential information on three different occasions.

Laura Dupont told members of public it might be removed but was later told that was confidential information

Port Coquiltam Coun. Laura Dupont was elected with the most votes of any of her colleagues in the 2018 election. (City of Port Coquitlam)

Port Coquitlam Coun. Laura Dupont has revealed what she believes is the confidential information she released earlier this year that caused her to be censured by the rest of her colleagues

And it concerns a single tree.

"That's correct," said Dupont's lawyer, Sebastian Anderson, explaining the details of the petition Dupont filed in B.C. Supreme Court to reverse her punishment.

Dupont was censured and removed from her position on Metro Vancouver's climate action committee in May, after a third-party investigator found she disclosed confidential information on three different occasions.

Port Coquitlam has not said what the information was, beyond it being serious and potentially financially damaging. 

But Anderson says it concerned a discussion Dupont had with a consultant the city hired for revitalizing the downtown area, and an email the consultant later sent raising concerns from a developer, if a tree wasn't removed.       

"They (Dupont and the consultant) looked at a number of trees and looked at preserving them as Port Coquitlam was redeveloped," he said. "The consultant sent an email about the tree and Coun. DuPont circulated that email." 

Anderson would not comment on the location of the specific tree, only to say it was on city land. 

None of the allegations have been proven in court. 

Port Coquitlam has been developing plans to revitalize its downtown core for several years. (Google Streetview)

City's response

In a statement, Port Coquitlam's chief administrative officer Kristen Dixon said the city disagreed with Dupont's petition and would be filing a response.

"Coun. Dupont was censured for breaching confidentiality. The city will defend its actions in court and will continue to take steps to ensure that council members adhere to their statutory obligations," she wrote.

"Council members should not be taking it upon themselves to decide whether confidential information should be disclosed."

But Anderson argues the information hadn't been declared confidential when Dupont disclosed it and didn't meet the criteria set out in the community charter to become confidential. 

"Therefore there was no basis for censure and absolutely no basis for the sanctions," he said. 

Dupont's censure — one of the few ways to resolve disputes when a majority of councillors believe one of their colleagues is in the wrong — was approved by every member of council. 

A court date is scheduled for July 15. 

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