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Legal action against qRD, Brander dismissed

The province’s highest court has dismissed a petition against the qathet Regional District and a director over conflict of interest allegations and meeting conduct.

The petition was filed in February by Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne and others against Electoral Area C director Clay Brander and the qRD.

It sought to remove Brander from office.

The petitioners alleged that Brander had participated in various aspects of a rezoning process for Douglas Bay Road. Brander is also an owner of one of the properties. It also accused Brander of “summarily erroneously” participating in the censure and sanction of Gisborne during a board meeting.

But a B.C. Supreme Court judge found that Brander had followed the Community Charter at all stages, such as declaring a conflict of interest, removing himself from a board meeting concerning the bylaw and not casting a vote.

The judge also ruled that Brander’s attendance at a public engagement session would not have been perceived as influencing others.

“The ruling determined that a reasonably well-informed elector in qathet would not conclude that Director Brander’s attendance…was conduct that constituted an attempt to influence, nor would they expect Director Brander to absent himself from the censure and sanction process of Director Gisborne,” the regional district said in a statement Friday.

The ruling noted that Gisborne’s behaviour and not the actual zoning issue that was the focus of the censure and sanction process.

In a statement released Friday by the regional district, Brander says he’s “dismayed” the whole issue had to go to court when it could have been handled internally.

The qathet Regional District’s legal bill will be “somewhat mitigated” because the judge awarded costs from the petitioners.

The rezoning of Douglas Bay Road, which passed during the February meeting, restricts commercial or industrial land use in the area.

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