Code of conduct for Victoria councillors dead on arrival

In-house code governing council behaviour deemed too complex, unnecessary by council majority

A proposed code of conduct for City of Victoria councillors is off the table after council voted 6-3 to nix the idea at last night’s meeting.

Councillors Pam Madoff and Shellie Gudgeon had initially voted in favour of considering the code at last week’s governance and priorities committee meeting, but changed their votes last night.

“You cannot legislate civility,” Madoff said in an interview. “This has taken up a fair bit of time and we’ve got so many other issues to deal with.”

The draft code drew criticism from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, who worried key phrases in the document could potentially stifle free speech at the council table.

Instead, councillors will receive a compendium outlining the existing regulations that apply to their behaviour, Madoff said.

“You could create a code of conduct, but really, it’s not going to be enforceable and there are no consequences,” she said.

When Mayor Dean Fortin presented the draft code last week, he said he was merely following through with recommendations from both a 2009 governance review and a 2011 consultant’s report.

Gudgeon said the code’s intent was misconstrued, and the final product would have functioned as a “touchstone” document to remind councillors of their responsibilities and rights.

“There were real problems with the (draft) code that was presented to us,” she said. “But I thought it was the right thing to have council adopt one and take the leadership on it.”

Gudgeon was swayed by arguments from Madoff and others that the code could create legal complications and supersede existing legislation.

“That was enough for me to say, ‘let’s not go down that road at all,'” she said.

Coun. Chris Coleman, Coun. Maryanne Alto and Fortin voted in favour of considering the code Thursday.

“People were trying to get into the minutia before we actually had the discussion … and they chose ultimately not to have the discussion at all. And I think that’s a loss,” Coleman said. “Code of conduct is just an expression that says, ‘this is how we should work together.'”

The live webcasting of council meetings, slated to begin Sept. 26, should also foster greater behavioural accountability for councillors, Gudgeon said.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Garden suite applications on the rise, but not without a few hitches: staff report

Victoria city council to hear update on revised garden suite application process

Armoury event highlights Canada’s D-Day efforts in Normandy

Event runs Saturday 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Bay Street Armoury

Canadians smoke less according to community health survey

Obesity and heavy drinking rates remain steady

Canada Day comes early with Oak Bay celebration

Fun continues with first free concert in the park Friday evening

Victoria woman accesses healing Burn Fund resources 45 years after injury

Stasi Manser was burned when she was five years old and now works as an adult burn survivor advocate

VIDEO: Stop-motion artist recreates Kawhi Leonard’s famous buzzer-beater

It took Jared Jacobs about 40 hours to make the video, on top of the research

POLL: Do you think the penalty should be increased for tossing a burning cigarette from a vehicle?

With grasslands and forests around Vancouver Island and across B.C. reaching tinder… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Rock slide in B.C. river may hinder salmon passage

DFO says it is aware that the slide occurred in a narrow portion of the Fraser River

Four-hour tarmac delay violates charter rights of Canadians with a disability: lawsuit

Bob Brown says new rules reduce the distance he can travel by air without putting his health at risk

PHOTOS: North Island home gutted in fire deemed ‘suspicious’

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Most Read