City Council adopted a new Code of Conduct Bylaw, which includes a redesigned complaint and investigation process, a new independent Integrity Commissioner role, and more robust guidance pertaining to sanctions. The bylaw passed second and third reading today and will take effect December 1, 2023.
Under the new bylaw, Council will retain an Ethics Advisor/ Integrity Commissioner who will give proactive guidance to Councillors seeking ethics advice and will investigate code of conduct complaints when necessary. It is anticipated the Ethics Advisor/ Integrity Commissioner will be retained for a 5-year term following a competitive process.
The new bylaw emphasizes an informal complaint resolution process, resolving a long-standing concern Councillors raised with the earlier bylaw, which did not allow sufficient room for informal, face to face conversations to address concerns about councillor conduct.
Under the new bylaw, the redesigned complaint process includes:
- The removal of Mayor and Councillors from the initial intake process, introducing an Integrity Commissioner who is appointed by City Council, to receive and manage all formal complaints.
- The addition of timelines to ensure complaints are managed in a timely and fair manner.
- A requirement that complaints be brought within 90 days of the alleged inappropriate conduct.
- Inclusion of a blackout period, meaning complaints cannot be processed within 90 days of a municipal election.
- Inclusion of an informal complaint resolution process that can be leveraged when a Code of Conduct complaint is submitted.
- Clarity around factors for consideration when City Council is determining potential sanctions.
The new Code of Conduct Bylaw draws from municipal best practices and incorporates feedback from City Council that was collected over the duration of their term thus far. Under the Municipal Government Act, City Council Code of Conduct Bylaws must be reviewed and updated with each new term of Council.
“Approval of City Council’s Code of Conduct Bylaw enables improved processes, greater transparency and accountability to each other, our organization, and our community,” said Mayor Johnston. “This bylaw enables accountability and clarifies expectations of elected members of City Council. The updated Code of Conduct clarifies the responsibilities involved in the investigation process and ensures we are as effective and efficient as possible.”
A Code of Conduct Bylaw is a written document that sets expectations for Council Member’s conduct or behaviour. All municipal councils are required by the Municipal Government Act (MGA) to have a Code of Conduct Bylaw. The City of Red Deer had a code of conduct policy prior to the first Code of Conduct Bylaw being adopted by Council in 2018.