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Councillors to hear FOCB bingo appeal

Lawn sign printed by the Friends of Crystal Beach protesting the Bay Beach condominium.

Lawn sign printed by the Friends of Crystal Beach protesting the Bay Beach condominium. The issue of political involvement landed the non-profit group in hot water over its municipal bingo licence.

Three town councillors who are facing election compliance audits will decide on Thursday, Nov. 24 whether the Friends of Crystal Beach should have its bingo licence re-instated.

Paul Collard, John Hill and Don Lubberts were appointed to the appeal committee after they and Bob Steckley voted Oct. 17 against sending the appeal to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission to make a ruling.

The FOCB lost its bingo licence — which was expected to raise about $5,000 this year — when the town’s gaming corporation decided it had violated eligibility requirements when it engaged in lobbying efforts against the Bay Beach condominium project.

All three have been critics of the project and have tried to overturn the town’s partnership with the Molinaro Group.

Hill and Lubberts are under the auditor’s microscope for accepting donations from a U.S. resident. Hill has said he was given the donation because he was against the project.

Collard failed to open a separate bank account for his campaign, but may also face sanctions for a donation from the Fort Erie Waterfront Preservation Association if it is found this group is ineligible to donate.

The gaming corporation wanted council to send the issue to the AGCO, but the three councillors plus Steckley — another opponent of the project — balked at the suggestion.

Steckley said the AGCO process would not offer an opportunity for the FOCB to defend itself verbally in front of a committee.

“It’s important to stand up and be heard,” he said.

The town policy calls for appeals to be heard by a committee of council. An AGCO review would have required the town to waive the policy.

Lubberts said it wasn’t fair to the FOCB because bingo licencees expect their appeals to be heard by councillors.

“The bylaw is in place so that council can make the decisions,” he said.

Mayor Doug Martin said nobody on council is impartial about the FOCB.

“If it doesn’t go to the AGCO, it won’t be the end of it,” he said.

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