Subscribe RSS Feed Email

City Council considers new Code of Conduct Bylaw

August 21, 2023 6:31 PM
(Red Deer, Alberta)

A new Code of Conduct Bylaw was presented to City Council today after the item was introduced in a closed meeting and then moved into an open meeting for discussion and first reading. Administration will take the feedback received from City Council today and will be bringing forward an updated version at an upcoming regular Council meeting.

The proposed bylaw would include a redesigned complaint and investigation process, a new independent Integrity Commissioner role, and more robust guidance pertaining to sanctions. More specifically, the updates proposed by administration include:

  • A redesigned complaint process:
    • All formal complaints to be received and managed by an Integrity Commissioner, who is appointed by City Council, removing the Mayor and Councillors from the intake process.
    • The addition of timelines to ensure complaints are managed in a timely and fair manner.
    • Inclusion of a blackout period within 90 days of a municipal election.
    • Inclusion of an informal complaint resolution that can be leveraged when a Code of Conduct complaint is submitted.
    • Clarity around factors for consideration when City Council is determining potential sanctions.

  • Changes related to representing the municipality:
    • Updates that ensure alignment with Alberta Human Rights legislation and the Alberta Human Rights Act.
    • Clarity about the use of City resources during an election campaign.
    • Adjustments related to how City Council provides feedback to administration.

The new Code of Conduct Bylaw being proposed draws from municipal best practices and incorporates feedback from City Council that was collected over the duration of their term thus far. Under the MGA, City Council Code of Conduct Bylaws must be reviewed and updated with each new term of Council.

“Council is very focused on a new bylaw that will allow for streamlined processes, greater transparency and accountability, while also ensuring confidentiality and discretion through the process when complaints are received and investigated,” said Mayor Ken Johnston. “It also considers the need for fiscal responsibility. It is costly to investigate and review formal Code of Conduct complaints, and while this work is necessary as we hold ourselves accountable to the public, we also need to ensure we are being as efficient and effective as possible. A new Code of Conduct Bylaw will help us do this.”

Right now, when a member of the public or City employee has a concern about the conduct of a Council Member, they follow a formal resolution process. Receipt of a signed written complaint from either a member of the public, a City employee or a member of Council triggers a more formal review and investigation. Informal reviews can currently occur only if the complaint is received from another member of Council and are typically addressed through informal discussion between the parties, sometimes with the assistance of the Mayor to facilitate a healthy discussion and resolution. The investigation process may be led by Council or an independent third party. If the investigation determines that there has been a breach of the Code of Conduct Bylaw, Council may impose sanctions on the Council Member whose conduct fell short of the expected standards.

If the newly proposed bylaw is approved, the process would look different, with an Integrity Commissioner assuming some of the responsibilities formerly held by the Mayor and Council as well as a more streamlined process where citizens may opt for informal resolutions.

The bylaw will return for second reading within four weeks time, at which point amendments may be proposed by Council. If approved, it is expected to take effect on December 1, 2023.

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 code of conduct policies prior to the bylaw (3608-2018) being adopted by Council on July 23, 2018. It is reviewed when a new council is elected.

FAQ - Code of Conduct Bylaw (pdf)

For more information about the Code of Conduct Bylaw visit

- end -