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Vacant seat stirs up commotion at Spaniard’s Bay council meeting

Lewis Sheppard at centre of commotion

Published on July 5, 2017

Lewis Sheppard is appealing council’s decision to vacate his seat.

©File photo

SPANIARD’S BAY, NL — One of five councillor seats were vacant during a recent town council meeting in Spaniard’s Bay.

During a town council meeting held on Tuesday night, July 4th, Lewis Sheppard sat among family and friends in the crowd, rather than his usual seat among council members.

As the night’s meeting began, the empty seat was not mentioned until Coun. Tracy Smith brought forward a question, asking if council was going to address Sheppard’s vacant seat.

It was then that Mayor Tony Menchions noted that the town had received a letter from Lewis Sheppard following the town’s decision to vacate his seat, as per Section 201(1)(h) of the Municipalities Act, 1999.

Sheppard’s letter to the town states that he wishes to appeal this decision.

The decision from the town came after a special meeting held on June 21st, where council discussed a situation on Valley Road involving flooding of residents’ properties caused by a new subdivision in the area.

During the July 4th meeting, Mayor Menchions read aloud the letter from the town addressed to Sheppard, who he referred to as “former councillor Sheppard.”

In the letter, it is stated that Sheppard did not vote on a motion that required a vote from all councillors in attendance during the special meeting held on June 21st. The letter goes on to inform Sheppard that his seat on council had been vacated, as per section 206 of the Municipalities Act, 1999.

The motion in question was for the engineering company involved in the Valley Road subdivision to return and explain the findings of their report.

Following the letter being read to the public, Sheppard piped up from the crowd, requesting his letter to council be read as well, in hopes that the public could hear both sides of the story.

Council, however, ultimately ruled that they would prefer if the letter was not read aloud and instead referred to legal counsel for review. Menchions added that he would rather have all bases covered before taking any further steps, though he had no issue with Sheppard making the letter public if he wished to do so.

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Sheppard piped up again, requesting council and residents to stay in the chambers a while longer, so that any questions regarding the matter could be addressed.

At this point, Sheppard questioned Coun. Brenda Seymour’s use of conflict of interest during the meeting, to which Seymour did not respond, promptly leaving the council chambers. At this point, the council meeting had already been adjourned.

Debbie Sheppard, Lewis Sheppard’s daughter, went on to read Lewis’ letter to residents.

In Lewis’ letter, he states that Coun. Tony Dominix and Coun. Seymour took over discussion during the special meeting, with Dominix making a motion before giving other councillors in attendance a chance to speak on the matter.

“I asked why I couldn’t have my chance to “discuss” it and then Councillor Dominix stated I couldn’t discuss this until the motion was seconded, and a motion could only be discussed after the motion has been seconded,” Lewis stated in his letter.

The letter goes on to state that Coun. Seymour seconded Coun. Dominix’s motion as Lewis was leaving his chair.

“It was generally agreed and accepted that we would discuss this matter before a motion was made and seconded,” the letter goes on to say.

Lewis says he felt as though he did not have the opportunity to discuss the matter in question, and therefore could not properly vote on it.

Coun. Dominix also left the chambers after his own use of conflict of interest was put into question by the public.

Lewis declined to comment further on the matter, telling The Compass that there were legal intricacies he wished to review before making any statements.

Lewis did add, however, that by making his own letter public, he hoped it would clear up any confusion on the matter as much as possible.