Alberton mayor apologizes to residents over controlled burn issue

David Gordon, mayor of Alberton. File photo

Karen Murphy isn’t satisfied with the apology offered by David Gordon, mayor of Alberton, at council’s monthly meeting on Aug. 12.

“I would like to admit I did not follow proper procedure regarding a burn permit application in June from Pat and Karen Murphy,” Mr Gordon said as he read aloud from a written statement. “I didn’t properly follow our Code of Conduct bylaw when I acted outside my rights by not signing the application. This created a lot of drama between me and the Murphys. I feel very bad that it went this far and I want to apologize to Mr and Mrs Murphy for how I handled this. My actions were inappropriate, and I have been disciplined by council and Municipal Affairs.”

The Murphys were not at the council meeting Monday evening, and were only made aware of the apology after being contacted by the West Prince Graphic.

The apology stems from an incident in June after Mr Gordon declined to sign off on a motion for a controlled burn permit requested by the Murphys. They were hoping for the burn to be done at the old Alberton dump, as they felt it would be more economically and environmentally friendly.

When Ms Murphy later requested a copy of the motion, she was told she would have to speak to Mayor David Gordon. When she first contacted him about the matter on June 14, she was told he wouldn’t be able to get a copy of the motion until Monday, June 17. When he called back again, he told her he wouldn’t approve the request because of complaints stemming from a previous burn at the site.

Since then, the Murphys made a formal complaint to deputy mayor Blair Duggan, which included several sections of Alberton’s bylaws that addressed the complaint. In the complaint, she stated Mr Gordon Mayor hung up on her during their phone conversation,  made personal insults to Mr Murphy, and was not respectful during several of the conversations they had. 

She also alleges he threatened to come after their business as retaliation to a social media post Ms Murphy made on the matter back in June.

“He said I slandered his business, and I said I made no mention of his business at all, and he said ‘Well someone did, they commented on the post,’ and I said ‘Yeah, I read that, I don’t know anything about it, you would have to take it up with her’” Ms Murphy explained. “He said ‘I’m taking it up with you. You’ve got a business, and I can come at you a lot harsher, and I’ve got the balls to do it’. That was after he apologized, so I felt like an apology wouldn’t be sincere.”

She requested the complaint be investigated and appropriate action be taken.

Ms Murphy met with Councillor Kelly Williams and Councillor Duggen a couple of weeks ago to discuss the formal complaint. 

“When we left that meeting I was under the assumption that they said they would get back in touch with me, and they asked if I was willing to meet with the mayor,” Ms Murphy said. “I said ‘I’m willing to do anything. I don’t know if I feel the need to, but if you guys want us all to sit down in one room, I can do that’.”

Mr Gordon was asked how he had been disciplined by council and Municipal Affairs, but he declined to go into detail on the matter.

When the West Prince Graphic contacted the PEI Municipal Affairs, they were told Mr Gordon had not been disciplined by them. 

“I want to make it very clear, we did not discipline Mayor Gordon,” said Wayne MacKinnon, communications officer with the Department of Fisheries and Communities. “What we do is we advise the municipality on proper procedures, but it’s up to the municipality to put those into effect.”

Mr MacKinnon said incidents like this are very rare, and can’t recall any similar occurrence since the new Municipal Government Act came into effect.

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