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This blurred image was included in the report to council on an incident involving Coun. Rajni Agarwal from June of 2023

Report slams actions of At-Large Councillor

By Adam Riley Nov 2, 2023 | 10:43 AM

Councillor Rajni Agarwal faces a recommended penalty following an investigation by Integrity Principles, which provides integrity commissioner services for the City of Thunder Bay following what the firm calls “abrasive, confrontational and harassing” behavior which breached council’s code of conduct.

The incident, according to a report released Wednesday, occurred on June 13th, 2023 when Agarwal confronted owners of a townhouse unit as they were undertaking work to address flooding and drainage issues, which had been authorized by property management.

A trailer containing soil for the work was parked temporarily on the sidewalk of Beverly Street, to allow the soil to be transferred over the fence.

The report states Agarwal repeatedly harassed and gave ‘the finger’ to the property owners.

Additionally she purported to direct them on how to carry out the work and invoked her authority as a City Councillor to threaten the owners with police and by-law enforcement action, which the report calls “an egregious abuse of authority”.

Two minutes worth of the interaction was captured in a recording, which was provided to the integrity commissioner.

Agarwal was recorded demanding the owners move the trailer and yelling statements such as:

  • “Get this off the sidewalk”
  • “I am representing the City”
  • “I’m not leaving you alone”
  • “You have broken the law. Get it off”

City police were called to the area on two occasions by request of Agarwal, first to do a ‘drive-by’ to determine if there was a cause for concern, the second time, at the insistence of the Councillor, resulted in them speaking with the owners reminding them to be available to move their vehicle, if and when needed.

The report finds the Agarwal violated two parts of the Thunder Bay Council Code of Conduct:

  • C. Guiding Principles:
    3. Members of Council shall perform their duties in office and arrange their private affairs in a manner that promoted public confidence and will bear close public scrutiny.
  • Rule 9: Member Conduct
    4. Members shall conduct themselves with appropriate decorum at all times.

Agarwal took several photos of the interaction, which she forwarded to the City Manager and Manager of By-law Enforcement.

She also defended her actions stating a woman with a walker was forced to navigate around the obstruction, by moving down to the side of Beverly Street.

As well sent an email to staff which purports to direct staff to charge the owners.

“I think he should be charged for the damage as he knew after my first warning that he was is in the wrong and he did it anyway.” … “We cannot let people just do whatever they want to do when they want to do it”.

Council will review the findings of the report on Monday, and could impose the penalty recommended by the integrity commissioner which is to have her pay for a period of 30 days to be suspended.

The municipal body also has the option to decline the penalty or impose an even larger remuneration suspension for up to a maximum of 90 days.