White Rock Coun. David Chesney has received an apology for censures imposed by the previous council. (File photos)

White Rock councillor gets apology for past accusations of defamation, confidentiality breach

Retroactive pay, legal fees for David Chesney, for pair of reprimands during 2014-2018 council term

White Rock council has quietly apologized to one of its own, in connection with censuring steps taken twice by their predecessors.

According to documents on the city’s website, a formal letter of apology signed by Mayor Darryl Walker was issued to Coun. David Chesney on Dec. 16, 2019, for censures that occurred on March 2, 2015 and Oct. 24, 2016.

READ MORE: White Rock councillor censured over online ‘defamation’

READ MORE: City of White Rock censures Chesney again

Following a review of documents regarding the censures, council resolved to endorse “an apology with all details in regard to payment of funds for Deputy Mayor and Legal expenses if applicable as they hereby rescind the resolutions of the previous Council (2014-2018 term) that censured Councillor Chesney,” the letter states, in part.

“Council are pleased to complete this review and with the result, and we look forward to a continued positive working relationship as Council for the City of White Rock.”

Chesney and Walker were not immediately available to comment Friday morning.

The first censure arose from a comment on Chesney’s ‘White Rock Sun’ website, which the recently shared city documents reveal was posted Feb. 9, 2015 and directed at then-councillor Grant Meyer. Then-mayor Wayne Baldwin said city lawyers had advised the comment – which was confirmed Chesney did not author – was “most likely” defamatory.

Minutes from in-camera meetings regarding the allegations note that Chesney gave both a verbal and written apology to Meyer.

The reprimand – which alleged Chesney had “acted in a manner unbecoming a member of City Council and not in accordance with City Policy – Respectful Workplace” – resulted in Chesney’s removal from committees and the deputy-mayor rotation until January 2016.

In the second censure, “breach of trust and sharing of confidential/classified information” was cited.

“Regrettably, City of White Rock Council has lost faith and trust in Councillor David Chesney’s ability to respect and uphold the integrity of the members’ office and oath,” reads part of a statement shared at the end of an October 2016 council meeting.

While details at the time regarding the breach were scarce, the apology letter is more specific, stating it was “in regard to the City’s legal relationship with the Semiahmoo First Nation where the City currently is negotiating reserve servicing matters.”

READ MORE: White Rock plans to shut off our water supply: First Nation

The released documents include a Sept. 17, 2016 email from Chesney that was sent to members of council and cc’d to at least one other individual, whose identity was redacted but disclosed in later documents as SFN councillor Joanne Charles. In the email, Chesney notes having had a “lengthy conversation with Joanne Charles regarding the situation we now find ourselves in,” and how he was “embarrassed and dismayed” to learn that the SFN had been notified by mail – rather than in person, as previously directed by council – of the city’s intentions to terminate the band’s connection to White Rock water.

Minutes released from a closed Oct. 24, 2016 meeting indicate that Chesney apologized for his action and noted “if I could do it over I would have handled things differently.” At the same time, he said council “must take into consideration the severity of what was actually said.” He said in speaking with Charles he “was trying to smooth over the actions as Councillor Charles was upset by the letter sent from the City.”

In addition to the December apology, council authorized that Chesney be reimbursed for monies lost due to his exclusion from the deputy mayor rotation – a total of $10,620. He was also reimbursed $1,097.60 in legal fees.

The apology was the second issued by the current council within a four-week period. The first, issued in late November in conjunction with the White Rock Museum and Archives, was also for something that took place prior to their election – the loss of Semiahmoo First Nation artifacts that had been entrusted to the city in the 1970s for safe-keeping.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

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