KENTVILLE - West Hants Warden Richard Dauphinee took the stand this morning in a Nova Scotia Supreme Court hearing taking place at the Kentville Justice Centre.
Dauphinee is facing a conflict of interest charge over his involvement in the municipality’s 2011 purchase of a parcel of land owned by the now bankrupt J. W. Masons and Sons Limited in Garlands Crossing.
In 2011, the municipality purchased the 16-acre property for $500,000. Falmouth resident Tom Calkin, who initiated the charge against Dauphinee, contends the warden, who owns land adjacent to the Mason-owned property, interfered in the purchase and breached Municipal Government Act rules by partaking in the negotiations.
He also says the price paid to the company for the land was considerably above the assessed value of $14,500.
Under questioning by Calkin’s lawyer, James White, Dauphinee said he did not stand to benefit from the deal. He said his property on Hatfield Lane has always been “a piece of farmland, a hayfield,” that he was keeping should his children return home and want to develop it.
Much of the morning’s testimony focused on formalities of the land deal, including council meeting dates and votes, relationships between the parties in the land deal and who knew what, and when.
Dauphinee admitted to being well-acquainted with members of the Mason family.
“I lived in Three Mile Plains all of my life. I have known the three boys during that time,” he said.
Dauphinee, a member of a voluntary advisory board for J.W. Mason from between December 2011 and March 2012, said any efforts he made to help the company through its financial troubles were “because of the employees,” who would lose their jobs if the company closed, not because he would stand to benefit in any way.
“I knew they had been embezzled,” added Dauphinee.
The apple producer was forced into bankruptcy in December 2012.
Testimony continues this afternoon.