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Red Deer County council passes new code of conduct

Code of conduct update recommendation of governance review
Red Deer County Centre (Advocate file photo)

Red Deer County council has passed a new set of conduct rules for itself.

In February, council endorsed an implementation plan that came out of a governance review that began the previous fall.

That governance audit of Red Deer County found “considerable disharmony” between council and administration and proposed nearly 30 recommendations to improve the situation.

An implementation plan called on councillors to treat each other with respect, agree to a statement of council principles and engage a Code of Conduct Bylaw advisor “as soon as possible.”

That led to council meeting with outside legal counsel in closed-door sessions three times in April and May to hash out a new code of conduct bylaw, which was passed on Tuesday.

Mayor Jim Wood said the updated code of conduct is an "important part of Red Deer progressing."

The bylaw states its purpose is to "establish standards for the ethical conduct of members relating to their roles and obligations as elected representatives of the Municipality and a procedure for the investigation and enforcement of those standards."

What the code of conduct is not to meant for is also laid out.

"The Code of Conduct and its application is NOT to be used for trivial or frivolous matters or retaliation, retribution, political advantage, or purely tactical reasons (ulterior purposes)," the bylaw says. 

If an investigator determines that a complaint was made in bad faith the complainant may be found to have violated the code of conduct.

The code also lays out how council members are expected to go about their business, stating they "must act in a manner that demonstrates fairness, respect for differences, and an intention to work together for the common good and in the public interest.

"Members must treat one another, employees in Administration and members of the public respectfully and without abuse, bullying or intimidation."

Should a council member feel a colleague is contravening the code it is recommended, but not required, that they try to resolve it informally first.

A formal complaint must be made within three months of the alleged contravention, although exceptions can be made if it is in the public interest or the complaint was made in good faith.

To prevent complaints being used as election fodder, complaints can't be submitted after May 1 up the first sitting of the new council in an election year.

Sanctions for violating the code of conduct range from a reprimand or being asked to apologize, being suspended from committees or having council pay docked.

All municipal councils are required by the Municipal Government Act to have a code of conduct bylaw. 


Paul Cowley

About the Author: Paul Cowley

Paul grew up in Brampton, Ont. and began his journalism career in 1990 at the Alaska Highway News in Fort. St. John, B.C.
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