Harrison Park Manitoba Coun. Steve Langston, seen here in a photo he uploaded along with a statement on Monday, said voting on short-term rental applications does not constitute a conflict of interest. (Facebook)

A Harrison Park councillor who was recently accused of being involved in a conflict of interest has taken to social media to clear his name and set the record straight.

Coun. Steve Langston, who owns short-term rental properties, says his voting on short-term rental applications is not a conflict of interest.

This is contrary to what Jodi Miner, a resident of Onanole, claimed at a Nov. 30 council meeting, where she made the accusation against Langston.

The Sun previously found an Airbnb account for Langston and his wife Reghan with two properties listed as available for rent, one directly south of Onanole and the other southeast of the community. Miner suggested Langston should recuse himself from future votes on short-term rental licences.

On Monday, December 5, 2022, Langston defended himself on his public Facebook council page, stating Miner’s allegations against him should not be taken lightly.

“I have gone down the conflict-of-interest checklist, read extensively on the subject and consulted with multiple lawyers,” Langston wrote.

In June, Harrison Park council passed a resolution to adopt Bylaw 119, in which anyone operating a short-term rental prior to May 31 must apply for a short-term rental licence for each property. Council then decides, on a case-by-case basis, whether to grant conditional-use permits for short-term rentals.

Langston said he would recuse himself if council were voting on his specific properties.

After talking with his lawyers, Langston said he believes voting on short-term rental applications doesn’t constitute a conflict of interest.

“I see no reason to recuse myself from voting,” he said.

Ultimately, conflicts of interest aren’t up to Miner or “anyone else in the municipality” to determine, Langston said, but for the individual councillors to handle alongside their legal team or the Manitoba Court of King’s Bench.

“Accusations do not equate to legal conflict of interest, but they do a great job to further divide our community.”

Langston didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment by press time.

At the Nov. 30 meeting, Miner also accused Coun. Gloria Campbell of soliciting a bribe from someone who was applying for a short-term rental conditional-use permit, asking the person if they would donate to a golf tournament should the application be approved.

The conditional-use application in question was made by Tyler Plante, a Brandon-based businessman and realtor, who was seeking approval to run short-term rentals for his family’s cabin in the municipality.

According to video footage of the Nov. 9 meeting, after more than half an hour of councillors asking questions and residents speaking both in favour and in opposition to the application, Campbell asks Plante: “If you were successful in getting this short-term rental, would you like to donate to the golf tournament?”

“Sure,” Plante responds with a chuckle. “I’ll donate anyway.”

Campbell then follows up by asking if he has donated already, to which Plante repeats that he will donate anyway. The exchange, as seen on the recording of the meeting uploaded to YouTube, lasts approximately 12 seconds.

In an email to the Sun on Friday, Plante said Campbell was just being “a sweet older lady” who was trying to “lighten the mood” of a tense meeting.

“[It was] a very innocent comment,” Plante said. “I have not donated to the golf course.”

Plante nor Campbell responded to requests for additional comment

Reeve Ian Drul told the Sun yesterday that Miner’s allegations were “taken out of context,” but would not elaborate.

“We’re not going to comment at this time about them,” he said.

The Nov. 30 council meeting adjourned abruptly after Miner asserted her allegations. Harrison Park council will reconvene at 1 p.m. on Dec. 14.

By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Dec 07, 2022

This item reprinted with permission from   Brandon Sun   Brandon, Manitoba

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