AMHERST – Cumberland County no longer has a council representative on the Cumberland Regional Development Authority.
Gerald Read confirmed Wednesday has resigned his position on the authority’s board of directors.
“The recent events at CRDA and in particular the findings of the ombudsman investigation have resulted in a situation where by relationship with my fellow councillors is being negatively impacted,” Read said, quoting the resignation letter he sent to Warden Keith Hunter. “The mutual trust and respect that have built over the past several years needs to continue so that we can be a cohesive and effective council.”
Read, who served three years as the chair of CRDA’s board, said he was never away of any wrongdoing or irregular financial practices within the organization and was surprised to learn the ombudsman’s office was conducting an investigation.
“There were no red flags raised and I had no reason to believe there was anything wrong,” Read said. “I was very surprised when the investigation was going on and was surprised at the report.”
Read said he remains a strong supporter of the regional development authority model and welcomes a review being completed by the province. He said CRDA has had many success stories including Thinker’s Lodge, Cape Chignecto, the Pugwash master plan and the Joggins Fossil Centre and the cliffs’ UNESCO designation.
“I believe there have been a number of positive successes at CRDA over the period that I have been council’s representative on that board,” he said. “However, given the current circumstances, I feel that is in our respective best interests to step down.”
Earlier this month, provincial ombudsman Dwight Bishop completed his investigation of the regional development authority, slamming its financial practices and the Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Department’s oversight of the organization.
Bishop called for a forensic audit, saying invoices were created and used to obtain funding from the department without direct expenditures. He said the actions undermine the accountability process.
The county still has two citizen appointees on the board and Read expects the municipality will eventually fill his position.