Qualicum Beach Town Council will participate in a workshop to discuss how a proposed code of conduct will direct council members’ interactions with town staff.
The workshop is one of the recommendations made regarding a draft code of conduct during the Oct. 20 committee of the whole meeting.
“I have significant concerns about the way staff has been treated in the last year by members of council and it’s a variety of members of council, it’s not one individual,” said Coun. Scott Harrison, who made a motion to recommend staff be directed to work with a consultant or hold a workshop to assist with the code’s section on interactions with staff.
The committee also recommended removing a pay reduction penalty for breaking the standards of conduct.
“When we start getting into that, it can start getting very controversial, very vindictive. People may decide to hire lawyers, all that kind of stuff,” said Coun. Teunis Westbroek. “It’s just going to get more difficult to have a functional council when you start picking on things like this.”
Harrison pointed out the proposal’s other punitive measures, such as being removed from a committee, could be effective without the need for docking a councillor’s pay.
The committee voted to recommend amending the code of conduct so violation reports can be submitted up to two months after an alleged incident, rather than the six month window included in the draft.
The recommendation also includes a provision to extend the deadline to four months, if deemed warranted. “Going back six months turns into a bit of a witch-hunt,” said Mayor Brian Weise.
Council will vote on the recommendations at its Oct. 27 regular meeting.
In August 2019, council directed staff to provide options for the creation of a code of conduct. This was delayed due to high priority strategic initiatives, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resignation of former councillor Adam Walker and subsequent by-election, according to the town.
Council directed staff in July 2021 to write a report with options for a council code of conduct. Staff brought the report to council’s Sept. 8 meeting, during which council voted to direct staff to prepare a draft to be discussed during a committee of the whole meeting.
The draft code of conduct is based on similar documents from other Vancouver Island municipalities, including the District of Lantzville, the City of Nanaimo and the Municipality of North Cowichan.