On Aug. 1, the City of Chestermere stated that three City councillors are currently under investigation regarding a possible code of conduct breach, according to a press release.
According to a news release from the City, council voted four-to-one to hire a third party to conduct the investigation, following an in-camera session during a special council meeting on July 26.
Council voted for a third-party investigator to conduct a deep dive into a Facebook post made by Coun. Ritesh Narayan, look into a letter written and signed by Couns. Narayan, Shannon Dean, and Sandy Johal-Watt, which was published in the Chestermere Anchor, and to review an undisclosed document that was released by the three councillors.
“This investigation is necessary to ensure that all council members have and will abide by a code of conduct that will not disrupt or interfere with the other investigations that have been ordered by council,” said Mayor Jeff Colvin in the Aug. 1 press release. “It is imperative that all these investigations and others to be announced soon will be carried out in an impartial manner, without undue influence and outside pressure by any of the parties involved.
“If a contravention is established, measures taken will be proportionate to the nature and circumstances of the contravention and where appropriate, be educative and remedial for all council members and staff.”
The codes of conduct come following two investigations involving finances the City of Chestermere is currently undergoing.
The first investigation was launched on July 20 after the administration discovered financial irregularities resulting involving millions of dollars at its utility corporation, according to a press release. Alberta’s Ministry for Municipal Affairs is conducting a provincial inspection of the corporation.
The second investigation, announced on July 26, involves two former City of Chestermere staff members who made two unauthorized payouts into their personal bank accounts totalling $600,000.
When reached to comment on the situation, Narayan said he and his two colleagues are unable to speak on the matter legally, as that would put them at risk of receiving another code of conduct investigation.
However, Narayan did provide an emailed statement, in which he said the alleged code of conduct breaches against the councillors are due to Narayan publicly voicing his opinion. Narayan said he sought legal advice before speaking out on any matter and had a legal team review all statements before providing them.
Narayan also added he is in complete support of all the ongoing investigations.
“I am not afraid of the investigations because I know I am on the right,” Narayan said in the email. “It’s a shame that council members are not able to take to the media to voice their opinion or communicate with their residents without facing retribution.”