Comox Valley Regional District board of directors. File photo

Comox Valley Regional District board of directors. File photo

Comox Valley Regional District board considers code of conduct

Comox Valley Regional District directors reviewed the Board Code of Conduct Policy, which establishes standards for ethical conduct of elected officials, and provides clarity about behaviour the public can expect from them. Board members are required to follow foundational principles of integrity, accountability, leadership, responsibility, respect, openness and collaboration.

At Tuesday’s (Nov. 23) inaugural meeting, Courtenay director Wendy Morin noted B.C. local governments are following the lead of Ontario and Alberta in taking steps to appoint a municipal integrity commissioner.

“Code of conducts are great documents, but in my opinion, they don’t go far enough when there is an issue,” she said.

Because it’s a self-governing policy, Morin said a person can be out-voted if he or she is being impacted by the behaviour of others.

“There’s nothing in the policy that says what the recourse is for the situations…I think we have a great working board for the most part, but that doesn’t mean that every board going forward is going to be the same.”

Judging from what’s been seen in B.C. and across Canada, as a greater number of minority voices come to the table, Morin expects further incidents such as resignations due to what she calls the “isms,” those being racism, sexism, agism and even newbyism, in terms of people not being heard or criticized just because they are a new face.

“We’ve had a mayor allegedly spreading conspiracy theories, and a local government official going through a sexual assault trial. Those are extreme examples, but we certainly have many examples of folks who have felt they’ve been pushed out of local government positions.”

Morin thinks it would be helpful for the board to create a more robust policy that would provide recourse for incidents where people feel they’re in the minority and forced to resign because there’s no satisfactory resolution.

“Each incident is complex, and requires careful and fair consideration of all the issues at hand,” said Jake Martens, general manager of corporate services.

Area B director Arzeena Hamir commended the board for being ahead of the curve, but agrees with Morin about the lack of recourse and consequences when someone breaks the code of conduct.

“We are very lucky that this board is working together in such a professional manner,” Hamir said.

Courtenay director Will Cole-Hamilton concurs the document could be built out further to create a more robust policy for the next board.

A report considering comments from Tuesday will be brought back to a future board meeting.

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