Governance at the Resort Village of Candle Lake , which is home to numerous cabin owners from Saskatoon, Prince Albert and much of the province, appears to be in turmoil over alleged ethics and privacy breaches, purportedly regarding councillor Ron Cherkewich.
Cherkewich claims the mayor attempted to kick him off council last week following an earlier private meeting that he was not invited to. However, he argued only a judge or ratepayers can dismiss him.
“He [Mayor Borden Wasyluk] said ‘here’s a letter from a lawyer’; I looked at the letter and confirmed it was from a lawyer and politely ripped it up in six pieces and put it back on the table,” Cherkewich told paNOW. “I said ‘I’m afraid I need a judge’s order.’”
Cherkewich said he then continued to attempt to participate in the council meeting but things escalated.
“The mayor stopped the meeting and said ‘If you don’t get out of here I’m going to call the police,’” said Cherkewich. “I said ‘Mr Mayor you wouldn’t do that to me would you?’ and he said ‘yes I would ‘ so I said ‘I guess we’ll have to go for it …call the police.’”
Cherkewich claims the police were called but they chose not to respond.
The dramatic week concluded with a special closed door council meeting regarding ethics breaches but Wasyluk would not comment on specifics other than to say the minutes of that meeting would be made public June 8.
He did tell paNOW that “it is distractions and complications we could do without.”
Asked about the controversy Wasyluk said he wanted ratepayers to know “council is following proper procedures. Everything is being vetted by our solicitor, everything is open, above board and transparent.”
It remains to be seen what sanctions Cherkewich could face. The councillor said he’s now been told he can sit at the table but not make motions, talk or enter any discussions. Last year council voted to suspend him for a month due to a Code of Ethics breach and he was also removed from committees for four months.
Speaking in his personal capacity Cherkewich, a lawyer who specializes in municipal litigation, said the village’s attempt to muzzle him highlights the way in which the administration has regressed to its former state. He said ratepayers chose to dismiss the old ways when they elected a new council in the last election.
“We needed to get rid of cronyism, nepotism, secret meetings, a sense of entitlement by a few of the people in Candle Lake because they were here longer than everybody else, among other things,” he said. “For a couple of minutes in 2016 after the election we were all here together but the disease of the old council quickly seeped in,” he said.
Although council has not publicly revealed what the latest Code of Ethics and privacy breaches are, Cherkewich suggests they are in part linked to three emails that he sent out to the public recently. paNOW has received copies of those. They show complaints he’s made about council’s handling of contract tenders for janitorial and gravel, the lack of support he’s received for his whistleblower protection, and his publishing of financial information about the developers of the planned marina.
Cherkewich told paNOW if council silences him he will turn to the Candle Lake Community online group to inform the public of what’s going on.
He said from his perspective and experience “transparency, accountability and recourse at the Resort Village of Candle Lake since the last election has fallen into the Candle Lake Black Hole, aka septic tank.”
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