Longtime Inuvik town councillor ousted over unpaid fees

Coun. Vince Sharpe got the boot on Wednesday because he owes $700 dollars in fees to the Town of Inuvik.

Vince Sharpe is convinced administration has a grudge against him

Coun. Vince Sharpe owes $700 in fees to the Town of Inuvik. It's not the first time this has happened. (David Thurton/CBC)

An Inuvik town councillor got the boot on Wednesday because he says he failed to read his mail.

Vince Sharpe owed $700 dollars in fees to the Town of Inuvik. Sharpe says it was for dumping fees at the local landfill. 

The town sent him reminder letters, but he said he never read them.

According to the N.W.T.'s Local Authorities Elections Act, "a person is not eligible to … stand as a candidate for mayor or councillor, if he or she is personally indebted to the municipal corporation for a sum exceeding $500 for more than 90 days."

Sharpe thinks his ousting isn't about the money.

"Of course it wasn't because of the money," he said. "They know I have the money. There's a few of them there that don't like me sitting on council."

Sharpe said he had the money in his pocket and offered to pay it right then and there, but administration said it was too late.

"I thought that was funny. I was laughing, it didn't really matter to me. I said 'here's my keys and I'll see you at the polls.'"

Sharpe has owed fees before

Sharpe has been a city councillor on and off since 1989. This is the second time he's had an outstanding debt with the Town of Inuvik.

A few years ago, just like now, he says he didn't check his mail. It wasn't until the town called him that he learned about his debt and paid it off.

This time, he says no one called.

Instead, he was informed at Wednesday's council meeting that he was out of a job. Sharpe is convinced administration has a grudge against him and wanted him gone.

"They are definitely not happy with me," he said. "I tell it the way it is. I tell the truth to the people and that's what I was elected for."

Mayor says issue is about accountability

Mayor Jim McDonald insisted Sharpe's removal had nothing to do with grudges.

"All councillors or elected officials have to be held accountable just like anyone else," he said.

"Yeah, maybe [the town] could have called, but that's part of a councillor's responsibility, I would think, to be aware of his own affairs."

Sharpe says he has since paid the fees.

He plans to run again in the October election and said he may even throw his name in for mayor.

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