Qualicum Beach town staff members will draft a code of conduct for council.
As a starting point, they will use the ‘standards of conduct’ from the municipality of North Cowichan.
Coun. Teunis Westbroek said the town does not have to hire and pay a consultant $4,500 to develop a code of conduct for the town, when it can follow the standards already set by North Cowichan.
“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel here,” said Westbroek. “The UBCM (Union of British Columbia Municipalities) recommends North Cowichan to be used for communities like ours. I think we can make it a bit tailor-made with our name on it and maybe some minor adjustments. But there you have it. I think it’s basically there.”
Westbroek made the motion at the regular council meeting on Sept. 8 to direct town staff to develop a code of conduct similar to North Cowichan’s. The motion passed but it was not unanimous, as Mayor Brian Wiese and Coun. Scott Harrison voted in opposition.
Wiese prefers getting together in a workshop with a facilitator to discuss how they can address code of conduct for council.
“There’s some things in this one that I think are way, way out of line,” said Wiese. “I think, just one of the items is that the majority of council, three people can pick, can grab any one of us, any one of you, and make a decision to be a two-thirds council vote. So there’s all kinds of things we need to talk about. Like who imposes the penalty? Three members of council? We need to just all of us get in the room, and have the discussion on what this thing looks like. And then we can go whichever way we’re going to. I think all of us getting in a room is not going to be a bad thing.”
Coun. Harrison argued the UBCM does not truly recommend the North Cowichan standards. He highlighted that every single infraction in North Cowichan was independently investigated by a third-party investigator, which he said could cost the town thousands of dollars.
Spending $4,500 for a facilitated workshop, Harrison pointed out, would be a smarter and economical decision to make. He favours finding an amicable way to settle disputes themselves and to “act like adults and move on.”
Coun. Robert Filmer said they can review the North Cowichan code of conduct and address issues that they feel might be too stern.
“At the end of the day, it’s just about accountability,” said Filmer. “If all of us do our job properly, be respectful, there’s nothing to fear with this code of conduct”
Coun. Anne Skipsey stressed that town council needs a code of conduct.
“If it was just about signing on to being respectful and whatnot, all that wording is already contained in our strategic plan,” said Skipsey. “It already says we’re going to be respectful and we’re going to treat each other well. I think the North Cowichan is a good example. It’s a starting point.”
Council hopes to discuss a draft of the code of conduct at a future committee of the whole meeting.