Qualicum Beach town council has approved a standards of conduct policy that will help guide members of council in carrying out their duties and functions.
The policy was created following a workshop, conducted by consultant Allison Habkirk, attended by all members of council. The draft of the policy was presented by staff at council’s regular meeting on Feb. 2 and was eventually approved following some minor amendments.
Coun. Teunis Westbroek had concerns in the interactions with staff section of the policy (6.3) that states council and committee members are not to provide direction to or contact any of the town’s contractors, tenderers, or consultants unless expressly authorized to do so by the CAO.
Westbroek feels it’s more appropriate to have council decide rather than the CAO.
“At the time of discussion, I gave some examples of how some of these things went sideways, but if it had to be approved by council, we would have avoided, in my opinion that time, significant cost,” Westbroek explained. “So my motion would be to replace at the end of 6.3 the CAO by changing it to council.”
Coun. Robert Filmer also raised his objection to the inclusion of committee members as he feels they have nothing to do with the CAO and have no authority to give directions to anyone.
“Committees do not report to the CAO and they do not operate on behalf of the CAO,” said Filmer. “They have really no relationship with the CAO. They operate on that they’re an identity of us and they operate on behalf of us.”
Coun. Scott Harrison opposed Westbroek’s motion. He pointed out if a council member wants to approach someone and the CAO denies the request, there is an option to bring it to council for discussion. They can also do it in-camera.
“I think that sorts of accomplishes the same thing where the final arbiter to Coun. Westbroek’s and Coun. Filmer’s point is council,” said Harrison. “But in terms of the day-to-day operations, it just sort of defaults to the CAO. And it’s only when there’s an issue of conflict, that would go back to council.”
Mayor Brian Wiese also opposed Westbroek’s motion.
“Everything that we can do with staff should go through the CAO, obviously,” said Wiese. “If the one-in-a-million chance that the CAO is going to say ‘no’, then you can bring it to council. That’s the right way to do it. You know this code of conduct for the most part has been, which we all voted for, is the one we wanted. And we had this big long discussion on section (6) for a half-day workshop. Then to bring in this last-minute change, I think is wrong.”
Filmer made a suggestion to amend section (6.3) to just read “council and committee members are not to provide direction to or contact any of the town’s contractors, tenderers, or consultants.”
Westbroek withdrew his motion and supported Filmer’s recommendation which council also endorsed.
Council then approved Town of Qualicum Beach Standards of Conduct Policy No. 3004-7.