A taxpayer is calling for an investigation into Inverness County council after Nova Scotia’s Environment Department confirmed that a power outage caused by Hurricane Dorian resulted in untreated water going to some homes.
Gerard Gillis made the allegation and several other claims in a letter to council in 2019, but the county and its warden at the time, Betty Ann MacQuarrie, said the accusations were without merit and dismissed them.
Gillis said he is now vindicated by the province’s findings.
“This justifies one of the items in the letter,” he said. “I want to see a breach of confidence, a breach of trust investigation. Whoever would do it, I don’t know, but it should be asked for by the council.”
Among other things in the letter, Gillis said county administration had failed to install backup generators at the municipality’s treatment plants, which caused raw water to get into people’s homes.
Records showed the county had budgeted for the generators more than a year earlier, but they were never bought or installed.
In an email Monday, the Environment Department said it had closed an investigation into the water quality complaint and found that eight properties on Banks Road in Inverness had received untreated water after the power outage caused by the storm.
Gillis said that should be enough to convince councillors to start an investigation into all of his complaints.
“In my opinion, they should have stood up when Betty Ann [MacQuarrie] went out and said there was nothing to this, should have went out and said, ‘No, there is something to it,’ and that’s what they didn’t do, so now there’s an opportunity for them to vindicate themselves,” he said.
Coun. John MacLennan initially brought Gillis’s letter to an in-camera council meeting containing allegations about hiring and contract improprieties, as well as complaints about the power outage that followed Hurricane Dorian.
Citizen’s letter dismissed as untrue
In a December 2019 statement from the county’s chief administrative officer and in an interview with CBC News, MacQuarrie said the letter contained “claims that have no merit and information that is untrue and inaccurate.”
Council later voted to bar MacLennan from attending in-camera meetings, strip him of his committee duties and take away use of his county email, saying he had breached the code of conduct by discussing the letter’s contents publicly.
Eventually, the county issued a new tender and bought and installed generators at all municipal water treatment plants.
“Definitely, I feel vindicated,” MacLennan said this week.
“The only thing I was allowed to go to was the council meetings, but right now, with what the Environment [Department] said, there was contaminated water got into the system, so I believe John…