Central Saanich has taken steps to develop a code of conduct.
A notice of motion by Mayor Ryan Windsor tabled during the last council meeting on Nov. 14 calls on staff to organize a special session in February 2023 to help develop such a code. The motion still requires council’s approval.
Windsor said his notice of motion responds to the passage of provincial legislation in October 2021. It requires municipal councils and regional district boards to consider developing or updating codes of conduct and adding supporting companion bylaws and policies. These considerations must take place within six months of the last municipal election on Oct. 15. “And if they don’t, they have to provide reason or explanation,” Windsor said, adding that the provision leaves some room for interpretation.
Nanaimo, where residents witnessed years of in-fighting and intrigue among council members prior to the election of current Mayor Leonard Krog in 2018, adopted a tougher code of conduct bylaws in May – before the last municipal election.
“Obviously, there have been places where (conduct) is a problem,” he said. “If you have a place of conduct, it might help you navigate those situations.”
Windsor said this is the best time anyway for all councils to develop such a code of conduct. “It should be about positive conduct,” he said. “Let us frame it as ‘this is what we want to see,’” he said. “There may be times, where we have to take more serious action. What do those actions look like? It could mean suspending privileges, councillors lose their expense budget, they can’t go to conventions. But those are pretty heavy tools. From my perspective, it’s pretty hard to recover. If you are already on the path of hostility and now you are taking away privileges, are you actually making things worse?”
Windsor said people can respond in two ways. “They can either go, ‘I have learned my lesson’ or ‘no, I hate you all and I’m going to make it worse.’”
Windsor said he does not anticipate any issues this term. “The community has given us a good council,” he said.
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