Mounties probe distribution of secret recordings made at Lantzville municipal hall

VICTORIA — Covert recordings of a private staff meeting at Lantzville’s municipal hall have been distributed by email by a person using what appears to be a fake name. Police have been called to investigate.

Former Lantzville councillor Dave Scott describes the situation as “strange” and “disconcerting.”

Four audio clips from a fall 2017 meeting between senior staff were emailed to members of the district’s official community plan committee, he said. The emails were sent last year. Each clip is 20 to 30 seconds long.

Lantzville is a beachside community of 3,600, between Nanaimo to the south and Nanoose Bay to the north. It is a bedroom community for Nanaimo.

The meeting appears to have been between Ronald Campbell, Lantzville’s chief administrative officer, and Frank Limshue, then the district’s community planner, now working in the private sector. The two men apparently did not know they were being recorded.

Scott was on Lantzville’s official community plan review committee, which had been holding regular meetings. The email arrived from a sender using what Scott believes is a fake name.

He said he does not know how widely the clips were distributed, but committee members received them. “Most people that I talked to did receive it.”

Scott said RCMP sent an email in late 2017 “indicating that they were investigating it and asked if we could provide any additional information.”

RCMP would not confirm whether they are investigating. Police advised that it is illegal to record a conversation that one is not a party to, Scott said.

“The recordings are not the clearest in the world. I mean, you can hear what people are saying but you have to listen really closely because the audio level is fairly low.”

The conversations in the clips touched on Lantzville and the official community plan. It came in with the statement: “Some insight into how staff in Lantzville view the OCP committee and some members who disagreed with the development agenda,” Scott said.

“I didn’t think it was really that controversial. It was just describing what was happening in the meetings and what position some of the people were taking on some of the items, that was all.”

Scott said he does not know what technology was used to make the recording. “The whole thing was very strange.”

Another former councillor, Bob Colclough, has heard the recordings that were emailed, and said he thinks there was a third person in the meeting but he couldn’t make out that individual’s words.

He said the process around the official community plan review involved “tremendous” public involvement and participation. “It wasn’t a terribly controversial process.”

Campbell said the RCMP are investigating and he cannot comment. Limshue also did not comment. Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain had no comment.

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