DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard
KAWARTHA LAKES: After having been removed from the City of Kawartha Lakes’ Municipal Heritage Committee, and a Superior Court ruling finding she was wrongfully removed by the City, Lindsay resident Joan Abernethy is seeking up to $35,000 from the City, in the case.
Ms. Abernethy is seeking $10,000 in legal costs, and $25,000 in damages, if the City doesn’t follow certain actions, after being removed by council from her spot on the advisory committee when alleged complaints were made about her conduct.
“I suffered damages to my reputation and to my society, from being targeted by lies the City believed,” read a document from Ms. Abernethy, from the committee of the whole meeting agenda.
During a telephone press conference, on Wednesday, June 10th, Mayor Andy Letham stated it was his belief Ms. Abernethy is making a claim through the City’s claims department. He explained how that process works. “We as a council do not accept those claims. They have to go through our claims department, and off to our insurance company.”
Ms. Abernethy appeared virtually, for a deputation to council members, on Tuesday, June 9th, providing some background for her claim. “In January 2020, the Ontario Divisional Court heard my application for a judicial review of a decision council made in July 2018, to terminate my two and a half year appointment to the Kawartha Lakes Municipal Heritage Committee. The court found that council acted unlawfully by denying me procedural fairness,” Ms. Abernethy explained.
She then addressed the complaint, which alleged she was “aggressive and hostile” towards committee members, during her time on the committee.
“The complaint was false. The complainants lied to council that for two and a half years I bullied and harassed and threatened other committee members,” Ms. Abernethy said.
But she hesitated to put all the blame on city council. “I did not ask for a punitive award, because I believe council’s primary fault was in trusting unreliable sources,” Ms. Abernethy stated.
Ward 5 Councillor Pat Dunn applauded Ms. Abernethy for her efforts in court. “I want to congratulate you, because very few people of modest means, and I think you fall into that category, have the chutzpah to take on City Hall. Most of the time people just roll over and play dead,” Councillor Dunn said.
Councillor Dunn then made a motion to have council issue an apology for what she had to endure in this matter. “I think it’s appropriate for City council to give her a letter of apology,” Councillor Dunn said.
However, Councillor Dunn’s motion failed to receive enough support.