Former Carbonear mayor Frank Butt was in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador on Wednesday, trying to get reinstated to the town’s top job, after being removed last month for alleged conflict of interest.
Town councillors voted him out after receiving an anonymous letter about a 2014 motion by then-councillor Butt that the town demolish a rundown property adjacent to a gas station he owned.
Butt’s application calls on the court to overturn the council’s decision and reinstate him as mayor.
It says council made numerous mistakes — Butt lists 32 errors — in the process it used to remove him from office.
The court filing says the anonymous letter was addressed to the provincial minister of municipal affairs, not council, and no attempt was made to determine who wrote it.
According to Butt, the letter should have been disregarded, which he says is council’s usual policy in dealing with anonymous correspondence.
Butt also argued that council didn’t hand over all the information he needed to address the allegations.
“Without the provision of the disclosure requested the appellant’s ability to reasonably defend himself was seriously prejudiced and constituted a denial to a fair hearing,” the court application states.
The court documents argue that, based on comments made by the deputy mayor, the town “appeared to be actually biased and were certainly perceived by [Butt] to be biased in their conduct of matter.”
The Town of Carbonear has not filed a response.
No appraisal done after demolition
The allegations of conflict of interest were brought to council in September, three years after the motion Butt made when he was a councillor in 2014 to demolish a derelict building on Water Street.
Council ruled that Butt was in a conflict because having the council pay to tear down the former Easy Save/Surprise Bag Company building benefited Butt’s neighbouring gas station by increasing its value.
The court filings argue that the town should have sought out more information from consultants and appraisers to determine whether Butt’s property actually became more valuable with the nearby derelict building demolished.
Butt wouldn’t speak to reporters after the hearing.
Wednesday’s court appearance was merely to set a next court appearance, which will be Jan. 18.