Sudbury city manager accused of conflict of interest over proposed soccer dome
Tyler Campbell planning city sports facility that could be built on school board property
A public school board trustee is facing accusations of conflict of interest over plans to build a soccer dome in Sudbury, Ont.
Tyler Campbell is discussing possible locations for the sports facility in his role as the city's director of leisure services, according to emails obtained through a Freedom of Information request from concerned parent Chantelle Gorham. She asked for the documents after hearing the Rainbow School Board was in high level talks with the city about the project.
"There's no way to be impartial and removed from the Rainbow board when you're working out business dealings between the City of Sudbury, which is your employer, and the Rainbow Board, where you participate as a trustee," Gorham said.
"I don't know how anybody in our community can rely on him to make impartial decisions when this is going on behind closed doors."
Campbell declined CBC's interview request — referring to a city statement that confirms he is discussing soccer bubble plans with interested parties.
Education director defends Campbell
Campbell has declared a conflict of interest with his school board over soccer dome discussions, which means he cannot vote or speak on the matter during meetings. It is not known if Campbell has done the same in his capacity as a city employee.
"I can only trust that he is speaking on behalf of the city and, of course, the position that he holds," education director Norm Blaseg said.
"I don't even have a conversation with him at the board because it's not within his capacity to have those conversations."
Another email shows that Campbell has stated that the the board has $1 million "available to bring to the table" for the project.
However, Blaseg insists the board has not committed any money for a soccer bubble. If it did, the funding would be a one time expenditure that does not interfere with school operating costs, he said.
"Lots of stakeholders talk about money," Balseg said. "Does that mean you're beholden to any of those things? Not at this particular time. No, because we have not had those types of discussions."
Parent calls for school board to undertake financial audit
The board's talks about building a soccer dome are happening just as it considers shutting down schools.
Gorham wants the board to undergo a financial audit because she finds the timing troubling.
In light of the emails, trustee Larry Killens said the board should call a meeting about the soccer dome issue. He had not heard about an offer of $1 million for the project, but noted the money would be better spent saving schools.
"That million dollars would've come in handy for that," Killens said.
'Where do allegiances lie?'
Cambrian College, Howard Armstrong Recreation Centre and the Countryside Arena are also being examined as locations for a soccer dome.
A business called the Farley Group is willing to fund the project at Countryside, according to Mike Graham, a spokesperson for the Sudbury District Soccer Club.
He has been working with city staff on his proposal, and said he hopes Campbell's position as trustee does not create an issue.
"It's confusing because if you're involved with both [city and school board] than obviously where do allegiances exactly lie?," Graham asked.
"You try to work with people and put your best plan forward and hope that they [city] see that your best plan is the right plan to move forward."
MPP Thibeault insists he has 'no preference' on bubble location
"I have no preference as to where we have a soccer dome. I would just like to see one," Thibeault said.
"But that's not my call, right? It's the call within the city. If the community can come together and put an application in than it's my job as MPP to be able to spearhead whatever possible opportunities there would be for funding."
Thibeault has been talking to different groups interested in having a soccer dome, he said.
This is just the beginning of discussions on Sudbury's proposed sports dome, as the city's community services committee is expected to discuss the project in the new year.