Council Briefs: City could appoint integrity commissioner

by Avery Zingel - May 1, 2018

A governance review of the City of Yellowknife produced recommendations for a revised code of conduct and the appointment of an integrity commissioner, council heard Monday.

Coun. Linda Bussey, Mayor Mark Heyck and Deputy Mayor Adrian Bell listen on in the council chamber. Avery Zingel/NNSL photo

Any integrity commissioner would likely be appointed from outside the city, and would be responsible fielding any complaints related to violations of the code.

Small cities like Orangeville, Ont., have integrity commissioners costs ranging from $6,000 for one investigation in a town of 28,900 people. In St. Alberta, Alta., where the population is 65,589, the city has budgeted $40,000 annually for a full time position.

Anyone from the public or employed by the city can make a complaint through a commissioner.

The commissioner would dispose of frivolous complaints, establish clear timelines for completing any investigations and protect the confidentiality of complaints.

The option for informal complaints against members for violations of the code should come with a documenting mechanism, said Coun. Rebecca Alty.

Without documentation, incidents would not be “escalated or stopped in a timely manner,” said Alty.

Investigations during or before elections would be stayed, preventing politically motivated complaints.

The draft bylaw establishes a code of conduct for members of council based on recommendations from Ontario-based consultant Governance Solutions.

If approved by council, a number of changes to the existing code of conduct would be ushered in – including changes to transparency, confidentiality of information, respect, and council-administration interactions.

The draft bylaw states that councillors should not exert “undue influence” on employees working for the municipality as a corporate body, respecting their professional and corporate expertise.

The Governance Review looked at practices across jurisdictions and conducted a review of the city’s existing code of conduct.

All members are governed by the city’s workplace and anti-harassment procedures,” said Sheila Bassi-Kellet, the city’s senior administrative officer.

“We want obviously to include this here. It’s very important that council take a look at this for many reasons. This is a commitment hat council makes to uphold that the City of Yellowknife will be a respectful workplace and it’s free of bullying and harassment,” said Bassi-Kellett.

Rules for city staff are already in place, she said.

Council with have an opportunity to further discuss the recommendations for council’s code of conduct and vote sections into bylaw.

 City votes to amend fees and charges bylaw

City council held a first reading of a bylaw that would see changes to fees and charges in the city.

The changes in the bylaw are being adjusted to “accurately and fairly reflect the costs associated with providing services,” stated city documents.

The fees and charges bylaw is reviewed annually by council.

In 2018, fees and charges are expected to make up 31 per cent of the city’s overall revenue, said senior administrative officer Sheila Bassi-Kellet at an April 23 municipal services committee meeting.

The report recommended at three per cent increase across the board for parks and recreational use and rentals.

The city also bumped its false fire alarm charge from $1,000 to $2,500 for a third false alarm.