Nova Scotia

Inverness council dismisses complaints around hiring, contracts, water quality

The warden in Inverness County, N.S., says the allegations, which include hiring and contract irregularities, as well as water quality and safety concerns, are without merit, but one councillor says they need to be investigated.

Warden says complaints are 'without merit,' but one councillor is calling for an investigation

Inverness County Coun. John MacLennan says he received a letter containing a list of serious allegations from a taxpayer and he believes they need to be investigated. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The municipal council in Inverness County, N.S., will not take any action on a list of allegations including hiring and contract irregularities, as well as water quality and safety concerns.

The warden says the allegations are without merit, but one councillor says they need to be investigated.

Coun. John MacLennan said he received a letter containing the allegations from a taxpayer and he believes it raises serious issues.

"The choice I took was I'm going to take it to council and see where we're going to go with it," he said.

For example, county records show council budgeted money for water utility generators more than a year ago, but staff never bought them.

Then in September, Hurricane Dorian knocked out power for days, leaving at least two Inverness communities without enough water for drinking and fire protection.

Inverness County Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie says council will not take any action on the allegations because they are without merit and because they were contained in an unsigned letter. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Other allegations involve how staff were hired or how contracts were awarded.

During a meeting in Port Hood on Thursday, Inverness council met behind closed doors for more than an hour to discuss the letter.

Afterwards, Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie said council will not be taking any action.

"There were some very false statements made in the letter and so we're just more or less letting everybody know that we consider it to have no merit whatsoever," she said.

MacQuarrie did say Inverness County issued a tender for water utility generators recently and they are being installed shortly.

She said the generators were not bought before Dorian because the request for proposals process was flawed and had to be redone.

Regardless, MacQuarrie said, council also will not take action on the letter because it was unsigned.

Not sour grapes

Gerard Gillis of Port Hood confirmed to the CBC that he is the taxpayer who made the allegations.

He said he was passed over for a job with the county, but his complaints are not a case of sour grapes.

It shouldn't matter who complained, Gillis said.

"Well I'm at a loss why I'm being asked [to sign the letter]," he said. "I certainly was not responsible for the non-purchase of generators in the county."

Gillis said if council won't deal the with complaints, he will take them to the provincial government.

"It's not over by a long shot," he said.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 16 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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