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Councillors assess code of conduct recommendations

From left, Councillors Julian Morse, Linda Bussey, Mayor Mark Heyck and Coun. Adrian Bell. Sidney Cohen/NNSL photo

Councillors discussed four-year terms and concerns around appointing an integrity commissioner, following extensive recommendations emerging from a governance review.

Coun. Linda Bussey, Mayor Mark Heyck and Deputy Mayor Adrian Bell listen to a presentation at city hall. Avery Zingel/NNSL photo

The review recommended multiple amendments the city's code of conduct for councillors, but is missing key criteria, said Coun. Julian Morse on Monday.

The governance review lacks specific parameters for establishing an integrity commissioner, which could undermine the force of the code of conduct, he said.

"That's another piece of this puzzle that is missing. It seems to me pointless to have a code that refers to an integrity commissioner and not have one to refer complaints to," said Morse.

Coun. Rebecca Alty moved the informal complaint process be removed, adding that feedback from a complainant to individuals who violate the code should be a matter of personal preference.

The city should also impose penalties according to the Cities, Towns and Villages Act, instead of as outlined in the governance reviews, said Alty.

Despite several gaps, the governance review has been completed, said Deputy Mayor Adrian Bell.

Council could revisit certain concerns raised by councillors in a possible separate review, said Bell.

Meanwhile, councillors are not unified over when to institute a four-year term, should the plebiscite return a vote in favour.

Councillors Morse and Alty requested any plebiscite for a four year term be applicable to the future council term, tentatively in 2021.

Candidates should be aware of the term length they are running for, said Alty.

"I think the four-year term is a good term, or a term that I would consider. It allows candidates a bit more time to get up to speed and be able to learn and implement and it's aligned with the terms of other governments ... time flies."

Bell suggested that any changes to term limits should be mindful of career politicians with territorial political ambitions.

"If we were to hold off and not apply this until 2021 that would mean there would always be a two year gap between municipal elections and territorial elections," he said.

Bell was in favour of instituting any positive result from a plebiscite on four year terms for the coming fall election.

Having councillors debating the length of a term not germane to their own length of employment is more rational, said Morse.

"Having people debate the subject on its merits, I think, is a lot better than debating the subject in the sense of, 'I would like to serve a four-year term, or not.' I think it would make more sense to say 'for this city it would be better to have councillors serving a four-year term," he said.