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“We're not interested in amalgamating with the city of Saint John, but certainly want to help and recognize the issues that are in Saint John," said Quispmamsis Mayor Gary Clark.

QUISPAMSIS, N.B. -- The mayor of a town in southern New Brunswick has been suspended from his functions after misidentifying himself to gain free access to the local swimming pool while pretending he was visiting a relative in the hospital, the municipality confirmed Wednesday.

Quispamsis Mayor Gary Clark was also found to have purchased a pool membership for a family that does not live in the town, in violation of municipal rules.

On Tuesday, town council concluded Clark had violated its code of conduct and voted 6-1 to suspend him without pay until Nov. 5.

According to a transcript of remarks by deputy mayor Libby O'Hara, the events in question occurred on July 18, after Clark texted the town's chief administrative officer to say he would miss a committee meeting to head to the hospital for a family emergency.

Instead, he went to the local pool, which he entered "using an assumed name," according to O'Hara.

"The summer staff members, who thought he looked familiar, then searched the internet," O'Hara said. "It was at that point that they realized who he was, and that he had misidentified himself."

The incident triggered an audit of the pool, which showed the $180 membership Clark used to gain access to the pool had been purchased by the mayor himself earlier this year.

However, the membership was registered in the names of four other people, none of whom live in the town -- another violation of the rules, the council found. One of those names was falsely used by Clark to enter the pool.

"This audit revealed that of the 113 family memberships that have been purchased, only one belongs to a family that does not live in Quispamsis," O'Hara said. That one was Clark's.

Clark is serving his first term as mayor Quispamsis, a town of just over 18,000 people some 20 kilometres northeast of Saint John. He previously served two terms on council -- and was a member when the pool rules were adopted.

Clark has since apologized for his behaviour.

"I acknowledge that I have compromised the integrity of my position and those I serve with .... I am truly sorry for my behaviour," he said in a written response dated Sept. 14.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2019.

-- By Morgan Lowrie in Montreal