The Town of Comox Municipal Works building on Guthrie Road.

No evidence found of Comox staff misconduct, investigation over

Mayor was unaware of any investigation opened by previous CAO

The Town of Comox, as well as the RCMP, have concluded their respective investigations into allegations of staff misconduct, with no further action planned.

In August, then Town CAO Richard Kanigan confirmed to The Record that he had received notice of the allegations and that an investigation had begun.

“Yes we are aware of the allegations and are investigating the matter. Given that it a sensitive personnel matter, I cannot really comment more than that,” said Kanigan, in an Aug. 16 email response to a query regarding the allegations.

Comox municipal engineer Shelley Ashfield was among the Town of Comox employees who were CC’d in this response.

The Town announced Kanigan’s departure as CAO in a press release Sept. 16, saying the Town had “decided to embark on a new direction for management of its organization.”

On Sept. 17, The Record reached out to newly hired CAO Al Kenning regarding the incident. He said he was aware of the incident and that the investigation would continue. The following day, the Town provided the RCMP with a file.

An Oct. 18 press release issued by the Town of Comox implies that no investigation was active, prior to The Record reaching out to Kenning.

“On Sept. 17, 2019, the Town of Comox received a copy of an anonymous, undated letter addressed to the Comox Valley Record containing allegations about the behaviour of unnamed members of the Town’s Public Works Department,” read the press release. “These allegations referred to interactions with female school students. The Town immediately initiated an investigation, including a referral of the letter to the local RCMP detachment.”

When contacted by The Record for clarification, Mayor Russ Arnott said he was unaware of any such investigation opened by Kanigan.

“I was not made aware of the complaint, from Richard,” said Arnott. “My involvement, and Al’s too, was when [The Record] sent us that [letter]. At that point we immediately took steps to investigate it further.”

RELATED: Comox CAO investigating allegations against staff

According to the Oct. 18 Town press release, on Oct. 9, the RCMP informed the Town that their investigation was concluded. No information confirming the alleged activity was found by the RCMP. The Town’s internal investigation is now also concluded, and has been unable to find evidence to support that the alleged behaviour actually occurred or that Town employees were involved.

“The Town’s priorities have been to ensure the safety of its citizens and to ensure its employees work in a safe environment,” Arnott said in the Oct. 18 press release. “I would like to thank our employees for their continued dedication to their duties throughout the investigation and our citizens for continuing to support our employees. I believe all Comox citizens can have confidence that Town employees are acting professionally at all times and are providing great service to the community.”

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