According to a 22-page report prepared by the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment, Power, along with former councillor Francis Walsh, were linked to the destruction of a sewer line for a property on 432 Seaforest Drive. This destruction allegedly came without the knowledge of other members of council at the time, despite the use of town equipment and the lack of any motion for the action.
Starting with a regular council meeting dating back to July 2011, the property on Seaforest Drive has come up in Cupids council business on several occasions, with the initial mention of the property being an acknowledgement it was large enough for construction of a house, and that septic/disposal fields would need to be approved by the then-Department of Government Services before permits were issued.
Approximately five years later, in August 2016, owners of the property, after being given proper approval, hired a contractor to install an ocean outfall septic system.
According to the report, the construction process was brought to a halt by former councillors Power and Walsh, who reportedly parked their vehicles in an attempt to block entry to the construction site.
In an email addressed to Minister Eddie Joyce of the Department of Municipal Affairs, the property owner states that they, along with their contractor, met with several council members, including Power and Walsh.
During the meeting, it is stated the contractors were told by the former mayor, Harold Akerman, to continue work and complete the installation of the sewer line, that Power and Walsh were not acting on behalf of the town but as individuals, and that the property owners were within their rights to call the RCMP.
The document goes on to explain that the sewer line installation was completed within the following weeks, after meetings with representatives of the Department of Environment and Water Resources (now included within the Department of Municipal Affairs), as well as the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which both confirmed that no involvement was necessary by either department.
This confirmation was included in the minutes of following Cupids regular council meetings.
However, months later, a letter was received by property owners from town clerk Ivy King requesting that the sewer line be removed as per section 2.2.2 Archaeological and Heritage Resources.
“Again, we were blindsided,” the letter to Joyce states.
The Compass reached out to the current mayor of Cupids, Gordon Power, who was deputy mayor at the time the request was made. The mayor confirmed the letter sent was requesting the removal of the sewer line, but no timeline was provided, nor were any consequences listed, were the property owners to keep the line as is.
In November 2016, staff members removed the sewer line. According to interviews the two workers did for the report, it was Mike Power who initially ordered them to destroy the pipe and fill the area back in. Before doing so, they stopped by his home to reconfirm the job at hand. Mike Power was on the phone with Walsh when they arrived, and Walsh also confirmed the work needed to happen.
However, Gordon Power told The Compass plans to destroy the line were not discussed at any prior council meetings, and that no motion was made for or against the destruction. However, a motion was made in October of 2016 in favour of the pipe's removal, following which the previously mentioned letter was sent to property owners requesting the removal.
“Everything was checked out,” Gordon Power explained. “(The property owners) had everything in order, and we as council never gave the go-ahead for destroying it.”
According to the report, council received confirmation from the Provincial Archaeology Office that the property on Seaforest Drive held no historic resource potential, contrary to what was stated in the request for removal of the pipe.
The document states that after speaking with the owners, they stated they may pursue a small claims action against the Town of Cupids, and that a request had been made that the town replace the destroyed sewer line.
Gordon Power confirmed with The Compass that as of approximately Thursday, Aug. 10, he was notified Mike Power had been removed from council as a result of the incident.
In the aftermath of his removal, Kevin Connolly resigned from his position on council as deputy mayor, reducing the town’s number of council members to three – not enough to hold quorum. Connolly was unavailable for comment prior to deadline. Nominations for the upcoming municipal election will be accepted Sept. 5 at the town hall in Cupids.
“They may take legal action against the town,” the mayor explained. “Right now, we’re asking for suggestions from Municipal Affairs, and we got options we’re looking over for the future of council.”
When asked if council would replace the pipe, Gordon Power said he doesn’t feel as though council has a choice in the matter.
The Compass contacted Mike Power, who also confirmed that he had been removed from council, but stated he could not speak on the matter at length due to legal reasons. When asked for his reasoning for the removal of the pipe, Mike declined to comment.
The Compass was directed to Mike Power’s lawyer, Bob Buckingham, for any further questions. Buckingham could not be reached prior to deadline.
The report from the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment was made public through an access to information request and is accessible online.
This story was edited to properly identify the town clerk of Cupids, and to clarify the details of a motion in favour of the pipe's removal.