Investigation into Petrolia councillor’s alleged actions made public

Town of Petrolia sign. Sept. 2014. (Photo by BlackburnNews.com)

Petrolia council members will receive an education session next month after internal concerns were raised and ultimately brought forward to OPP.

A report from an independent investigator was released Thursday. However, specific details and information have been redacted from the report.

Independent Investigator John Fleming was retained by Petrolia Town Council in October due to allegations surrounding an unidentified councillor and the manner it was brought forward. The investigation looked into alleged events which occurred between May and the fall.

The report states that municipal staff who work under a specific department reported instances of being watched and possibly photographed while performing their duties. Allegations of this nature have been made in the past against a member of the current council.

“I have been advised that members of the council addressed this alleged behavior with the councillor some months ago, at which point the councillor acknowledged he had done so, and committed to cease and desist engaging in such activities,” read the report.

However, concerns were recently raised with suspicions of people in vehicles following, stopping and potentially photographing staff. The matter was taken to OPP for investigation but as stated in the report, no charges were laid as the activity didn’t meet the definition of criminal harassment.

An addendum to Fleming’s report, which includes a summary of findings, conclusions, and recommendations was completely redacted.

In an interview with Sarnia News Today, Mayor Brad Loosley said he’s unsure if those recommendations will ever be made public as they involve personnel and were dealt with in-camera. Loosley was also unable to specify if disciplinary action was or will be taken.

“I won’t get into that because that is part of the in-camera personnel report,” he said. “I can say that the necessary action as recommended in that report has been taken and will be taken.”

Loosley said he was made aware of concerns in September.

“Then it was council’s direction to have an investigation and Mr. Fleming was brought in and I believe he interviewed 16 different people, including all of council,” said the mayor.

Loosley said he’s pleased with the outcome of the report and its recommendations.

“It’s never pleasant getting involved with personnel in-camera but I’m pleased with the outcome of the report and the action taken by staff and the CAO and I’m really pleased that this will be completed. We can now move ahead and move forward on this.”

Chief Administrative Officer/Treasurer Rick Charlebois has led in-depth training sessions with staff, in addition to annual training programs. A review of job descriptions for key positions is also underway.

An education session for council is scheduled to take place via Zoom on December 13, at 5 p.m. The meeting will be open to the public.