Rocky View County (RVC) council has found itself in yet another controversy that will distract residents from the municipality's governance priorities.
Division 1 Coun. Mark Kamachi is being taken to court by a group of RVC residents for alleged pecuniary interests. The plaintiffs in the suit, who represent the advocacy group Rocky View County Connect, claim Kamachi’s Bragg Creek-based advertising agency has been hired by the County multiple times and he did not abstain on votes pertaining to RVC’s economic development budget.
For close observers of RVC council or regular readers of this newspaper, the claims against Kamachi are reminiscent of a still-ongoing legal battle between RVC and Coun. Samanntha Wright, who was accused of pecuniary interest when voting on a development adjacent to her home in Bearspaw last year.
While there are similarities between the two instances, there are also differences. In the case of Wright, it was the rest of council who sought to have her disqualified. In the case of Kamachi, it’s a group of residents who instigated the action.
But regardless of which side you support, once again, attention has been drawn toward the personal or inter-personal drama involving council members, rather than council's accomplishments or municipal operations. While there have been certain successes achieved by this council – such as approving a three per cent property tax decrease in 2020 and boosting the County's tax base by enticing large corporations like Sobeys and Lowes Canada to set up facilities in the region – the volatility, conflict and legal clashes will likely be what voters remember.
This council will go down as being highly dysfunctional. Their term has been tainted by sanctions, code of conduct violations and complaints, legal battles, and other drama that has been both unnecessary and costly.
With a municipal election looming in October, we expect the next council will be eager to put these skeletons in the past. We hope the current council can carry through until then without further drama.