Vancouver city councillor Michael Wiebe will return to court in April after a lawyer who acted on behalf of 15 citizens in a conflict-of-interest battle against the politician secured a date to appeal a judge’s decision last year that dismissed the case.
The hearing is scheduled for one day on April 11 in the B.C. Court of Appeal.
Last July, B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Steeves released his written reasons for dismissing the case against Wiebe, who participated in votes in May 2020 that approved a temporary patio program for bars, restaurants and breweries.
At the time, Wiebe owned the Eight ½ restaurant in Mount Pleasant and was an investor in Portside Pub in Gastown. Both businesses received temporary patio licences after council unanimously approved the program.
Council framed the motion as a measure to help businesses offset the economic damage sustained from pandemic-driven public health orders that banned dine-in food service.
In his ruling, Steeves agreed that Wiebe had a pecuniary interest in common with other members of the group of restaurant and bar owners.
But, he added, there was no evidence that Wiebe “asserted an interest that is personal to him in the sense of being distinct from other owners of restaurants and bars.”
Lawyer Wes Mussio, acting on behalf of 15 citizens, told Glacier Media in an email after the ruling that his appeal would focus on a section of the Vancouver Charter regarding what “a pecuniary interest in common with the electors of the city generally” means.
“The judge used that exemption to find councillor Wiebe was excused from a conflict-of -nterest ruling despite participating and voting on motions that, when passed, benefited him financially,” said Mussio, reiterating parts of the argument he made during the four-day petition hearing that concluded in June 2021.
When told last summer about Mussio’s intention to launch an appeal, Wiebe said the judge’s comments were “pretty clear and I feel comfortable moving forward.”
In an email Thursday, Wiebe said he had worked with his lawyer to get a date as soon as possible, “so [I’m] happy that we finally have a confirmed date.”
Wiebe, who is seeking re-election in the October municipal election, is one of three Green party councillors at city hall.
Some of the citizens involved in the court action against him are members of the Non Partisan Association, including Mussio and party president David Mawhinney.