Council ‘kept in the dark’ on legal case: Towndale

Cornwall city councillor Justin Towndale. (Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – A city councillor feels elected officials were “kept in the dark” and information was “withheld” as the corporation faces a legal challenge.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) is adjudicating a complaint over Cornwall’s topless rule at the Aquatic Center, outdoor pools and parks.

The complaint surrounds a city policy that women and girls over the age of 10 have to cover up, contrary to the 1996 Ontario law allowing women to go topless. An unidentified complainant feels the rule is discriminatory and violates her human rights.

In a posting on his Facebook page this afternoon, Coun. Justin Towndale says he found out about the complaint “by accident” about a month ago when a series of emails landed in his inbox from a law firm about the HRTO issue. The city had already asked for an extension on the case on May 30, Towndale wrote.

Towndale goes on to explain, in detail, a series of queries and face-to-face meetings with administration.

While not mentioning her by name, the councillor also claims the city’s top administrative official – CAO Maureen Adams – “was only informed on June 8 about the legal challenge, which had been served on the city on May 11.”

Towndale also recounts facing some problems even getting a copy of the complaint. “I’m told that the information wasn’t ‘intentionally’ withheld from us, but I can’t see why it took so long to get to us,” he wrote.

He says it’s another example of why his rule to notify council in a timely manner should be in place. Towndale’s proposal was defeated in a council vote last year.

“It can be denied, but information is definitely being withheld, and it is preventing us from doing out jobs effectively. This has to change.”

“To say that is it frustrating is an understatement.”

You can read Justin Towndale’s entire column here.