Guelph denies Bruce Poole's allegations in wrongful dismissal suit

The City of Guelph has filed a statement of defence to a $1M wrongful dismissal lawsuit filed by former chief building official Bruce Poole.

City files defence statement with court

The City of Guelph has filed a statement of defence in the case where a former building official who is now suing the city for wrongful dismissal. (Kate Bueckert/CBC News)

The City of Guelph denies a former building official now suing for wrongful dismissal was targeted or singled out in his job or when his employment ended.

Bruce Poole is suing the city for $1 million after he says he was fired without just cause.

Poole is the former chief building official for the city, but says he was demoted and fired in retaliation for his repeated efforts to get the city to comply with the Ontario Building Code.

He also claimed the city's executive team created a poisoned workplace environment.

Poole was reassigned

In its statement, filed Wednesday with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the city denied Poole's claims and said the change in his position was due to restructuring. When the building department was combined with the planning services department, planning services department head Todd Salter was named the new general manager.

"Mr. Poole remained in the position of CBO [chief building official] but this position was reassigned to the manager level rather than the GM [general manager] level," the statement said.

The city added the appointment of Salter rather than Poole "was made in good faith for legitimate business reasons."

Poole claimed he was left out of important meetings, but the city said this was also due to his changed role from a general manager.

"Mr. Poole was in no way targeted or singled out," the statement said.

Staff ordered to charge city

Poole claimed the city failed to follow the Ontario Building Code and instructed staff to charge the city if it did not close certain jobs. The city in its defence said these jobs were minor.

His order to staff to charge the city "related to minor caulking that needed to be done in a City Hall window and a magnetic strip on a door which was not working," the city's statement said.

"Mr. Poole's behaviour was not a good faith attempt to enforce the Act or the building code, but rather an attempt to retaliate against the city for including him in the restructuring," the defence statement says. 

City to 'vigorously defend' itself

"The city denies the allegations against it within the statement of claim from Mr. Poole and felt that we need to vigorously defend ourselves against those accusations," Guelph's acting chief administrative officer Derrick Thomson told CBC News.

"It's before the courts and we'll wait further instruction from the court as it relates to the process."

Neither Poole's nor the city's statements have been proven in court.