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Council pursuing training options for Councillor Rajni Agarwal

By CJ Goater Mar 18, 2024 | 10:01 PM

At-Large Councillor Rajni Agarwal (File Photo)

Councillor Rajni Agarwal has found herself in front of the city’s Integrity Commissioners once again.

The Integrity Commisioners report found the councillor’s conduct as a member of the Fort William Business Improvement Area (FWBIA) board to be rude and abrasive. The councillor was also deemed to be chronically late for meetings, resulting in significant disruptions to the board’s operation.

The Integrity Commissioners recommended that Councillor Agarwal be removed from the FWBIA highlighting that they had determined it would be in the public’s best interest. Still, City Council decided to go in another direction with the councillor remaining on the board.

Council has approved referring the Integrity Commissioner’s report back to administration to examine training options for the councillor that focus on conflict resolution with a report back date of April 8.

“The contentious issues that we held before that caused concern were because of self-interest, individuals with individual interests” explained Councillor Rajni Agarwal in response to the proposed training.

“I gain absolutely nothing for being on that BIA, I stood to remain there and not resign in the membership’s best interest, to proceed, and progress and grow the downtown south core which has been overwhelmingly neglected over the years.”

Multiple councillors through the discussions highlighted that the current members of the FWBIA are happy with the councillor’s work and their preference was that she remained on the board.

This comes as the Integrity Commissioners received a complaint in October that detailed that the councillor’s abrasive, argumentative, and problematic behaviour negatively impacted the FWBIA and ultimately caused the Chair, Treasurer and another member to resign.

In addition to the behaviour, the complainants alleged that she overstepped her role as a member of the FWBIA by unilaterally submitting funding grant applications to the Clean, Green, and Beautiful (CGB) Committee on behalf of the FWBIA without direction and without providing the applications to the FWBIA Board for review and approval before submission.

One of the Integrity Commissioners was on hand for the discussion and she stressed that the behaviour displayed by the councillor was very clear through their investigation which led to the recommendation of terminating the councillor’s role on the board.

“In order to make a finding of fact, the test in an Integrity Commissioner’s investigation is on a “balance of probabilities.” This means is it more likely true than not that the alleged conduct occurred. This is a much lower threshold than the criminal standard of proof ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’,” explained Integrity Commissioner Janice Atwood. “Although we considered and determined whether the allegations were more likely true than not, in all of the instances the allegations were substantiated on the higher standard of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.'”

The idea was floated to have Councillor Agarwal removed from the board while she awaits training but council decided to forgo that option.

On April 8, council will receive the next steps on training options for the councillor.