Parksville council has decided to stick with its current code of conduct.
Because of new provincial legislation, local councils in B.C. are required to consider whether to establish a code of conduct or if a code of conduct already exists, whether it should be reviewed.
Coun. Joel Grenz’s motion that council retain its existing code, and confirm council believes the code complies with BC Reg 136/2022, was carried unanimously at the Dec. 19 regular meeting.
“Codes of conduct are relatively new in B.C. politics and they are well-intentioned, I believe, in order to regulate the behaviour of elected officials,” he said. “Because it is new, I would suggest that perhaps we should not be the guinea pigs for this. One main reason is they are not without controversy and without problems that arise from the application.”
Grenz pointed to a CBC News article which gave examples where codes of conduct were used by the majority to silence the minority. He said the city’s code of conduct, approved in 2009, predates a lot of the problems associated with council codes of conducts and has served the city well.
Grenz added the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) has recommended the establishment of an independent office of integrity for local governments that would provide oversight.
Coun. Mary Beil said she appreciates the current code of conduct is “very positive in spirit and it does not take a, let’s say, punitive or negative approach to it at all. I think concentrating on the good we can be, both in private and in public life and with each other and the citizenry, is really the way to go.”
Coun. Sean Wood said the recommended budget of $10,000 could be better spent elsewhere.
Mayor Doug O’Brien said he believes the code of conduct is already effective.
“We were elected knowing what the code of conduct was,” O’Brien said. “We agreed to abide that with our oath and I feel that it’s already proven that this council has definitely treated each other with respect and care of each other’s feelings and allowing full discussion.”