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County councillor did not contravene code of conduct, says integrity commissioner

Investigation clearing Jeff Duncan of wrongdoing cost taxpayers more than $15,000

WELLINGTON COUNTY – An integrity commissioner’s report has cleared Erin county councillor Jeff Duncan of any wrongdoing after he was subject to numerous allegations of contravening the county's code of conduct by a citizen. 

A report by Guy Giorno, County of Wellington’s integrity commissioner, stated complainant Leah-Anne Goyeau made numerous allegations against Duncan claiming he contravened multiple sections of the code of conduct for county councillors.

The full integrity commissioner’s report can be found here.

Donna Bryce, county clerk, said this integrity commissioner's report cost the county $15,840.

The complainant alleged Duncan contravened the code by arranging the historic remains of the Station Street Bridge to be gifted to the county in a commemorative area on the Hillsburgh library grounds and was a party to an agreement with an engineering and construction firm involved with this work. 

In connection with this, trails and pathways in the area of the commemorative area appeared and the complainant claimed this was done at the direction of Duncan, benefiting himself due to his home being in the area and businesses and organizations he’s connected with.

Another complaint took issue with Duncan’s use of his county email address to help promote the 'Love Local Erin' contest which was unconnected with the county.

Giorno determined Duncan was not a party to any agreement involved with the moving of parts and creation of the Station Street Bridge commemorative area or directed any creation of trails and pathways in the area.

Further, the findings state Duncan’s property does not abut or connect to the commemorative area or to the new pathways.

“I find the Respondent (Duncan) has no interest in any property except his own, and no interest in any business affected by the bridge, the dam, the commemorative area, the paths or the Elora Cataract Trailway,” the report stated. 

The report also did not find Duncan’s association with the Love Local Erin fell outside his scope as a county councillor. 

The Station Street Bridge commemorative area was erected in 2020 and placed at the Hillsburgh library grounds as it was determined to be a suitable location near the bridge. 

Although on county property, a memorandum of understanding was drafted acknowledging the salvaged bridge pieces, heritage signing and related items at the commemorative area are owned by the Town of Erin and are not the county’s responsibilities.

Duncan volunteered his time to write the text of interpretive signs at the commemorative area and he provided a few photos. 

The construction company and engineering firm that were working on the Station Street bridge replacement agreed to donate time and resources to move salvaged pieces of the historic bridge to the commemorative area. 

Giorno’s report noted the complaint materials are extensive, totalling 55 pages consisting of 11 emails and 42 photos screen captures and images. Some of the complaints he declared outside his scope and therefore not investigated as they took place before Duncan’s time as a county councillor, before the county’s code of conduct was official, or involved private individuals, groups or businesses.